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Bless The Child: Pediatrician Shayna Wood, MD

Bless The Child: Pediatrician Shayna Wood, MD

There was never any doubt that Shayna Wood’s career would be, in some form or fashion, helping others. The daughter of a pastor and the product of a small-town upbringing, she was raised in an environment where everyone looked out for everyone else — mind, body and spirit.

“With my dad, we did the hospital visits. I always saw that side of things, of ministering to people and taking care of people from that perspective,” said Wood, now a pediatrician in Baxter Regional Med-Peds Clinic. “But I also loved the idea of taking care of them from the medicine side, too.

I’ve always sort of felt like medicine is a ministry, and I think if you talk to a lot of physicians, they all feel like it’s a calling. That’s how I’ve always approached it as well.”

Wood got a jump on her vocation by graduating from high school a year early and heading off to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. From there, she received her medical training at UAMS in Little Rock where she first tasted the joys — and sorrows — of her chosen path. But even in the hard days, she saw her role clearly in helping families deal with illness and unthinkable loss.

“I trained at Arkansas Children’s, and I actually did an extra three years of fellowship there in neonatology,” she said. “In the beginning, I was a neonatologist in Little Rock and worked in the NICU. I was there for a long time, and while I would like to say everybody makes it out fine and there’s never any death, that’s not true.

“Death is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean that we walk it by ourselves. As physicians, if we can’t make it better, then at least we can be there for you.”

Wood might still be in Little Rock had the time demands of being in the NICU not conflicted with her and her husband Landon’s desire to have and raise a family of their own.

“We started to have a bunch of kids,” she said. “We had a set of identical twin boys when our daughter was 22 months old. Being on call in the NICU, you’re actually in the hospital, and I was leaving my poor husband home with three kids under 2 for like, 48 hours at a time.”

She chuckles at the memory.

“We decided we may have to do something different, professionally speaking.”

General pediatrics seemed like just the ticket, but the only question was where. Medical professionals of every specialty are in high demand these days, and Wood could have had her pick of assignments anywhere in Arkansas or out of state. But a substitute stint at Baxter Regional over Christmas of 2020 gave her a taste of the hospital and the community, planting a seed about where the next chapter of the family’s life might unfold.

“I came up for about four or five days over that Christmas and after it was all done, I told my husband, ‘That hospital is so nice. Their labor and delivery department, those nurses are so good. They’re doing such good medicine up there,’” she said. “It was just a great week for me. It was so enjoyable, I told him, ‘I would totally go back there again and do that.’

“In March, I got a call from a recruiter who said they were looking for somebody permanent. We didn’t necessarily feel settled where we were at the time, and we knew we wanted to get somewhere to be settled before the kids got really into school. I said, ‘Let’s just look at it.’”

Between the quality of the community, the excellence of the hospital and the unparalleled fishing in the area — a trait that won over Landon immediately — the family moved to Mountain Home last summer without a single look back. And, as Shayna soon found out, they weren’t alone on that path.

“Several of us who graduated medical school together are actually here in Mountain Home now,” she said. “There are also people moving into this area from all over the country. They bring their kids in and I’m like, ‘What brought you to Mountain Home? How did you end up here?’ Everyone is drawn to the small-town community. They love the lakes, they love the rivers, they feel like it’s a good place to raise their children.”

Wood has also found it to be an enjoyable place to practice medicine, praising both hospital administration and employees for creating a one-of-a-kind environment.

“They achieved Magnet status right as I was coming here,” she said. “While that’s impressive, I think the Magnet status is really just a reflection of the people who are here. The nurses take care of everyone just like they’re a family member through their commitment to excellence and doing what is above the standard of care. You can tell when you walk in, they’re here to take care of the patients because they love their patients. I appreciate that because that’s always been my take on it, too.

“I think taking care of kids has to be a team approach between the parents and the physicians and nurses. I like that collaborative working relationship with parents because the parents are with the kids all the time. Are there challenges? Of course, there are challenges. There are going to be challenges wherever you are. But when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing in life, then you can get through everything else.”