Meet Dr. Kelly Waicus, a Staff Physician in the Campus Health Sports Medicine Clinic and Medical Staff President for 2014-2015.
Dr. Waicus is both a sports medicine physician and a team physician – offering primary care to about 1/3 of the varsity athletes on campus as well as sports medicine care to any UNC student. She received her undergraduate degree at Duke and switched to UNC for medical school. Her career at Campus Health began during her residency rotations. Dr. Waicus rotated through a sports medicine placement here and later landed a two year fellowship with Campus Health. She then worked for a few years elsewhere in general pediatrics and sports medicine care only to return to Campus Health - first as a primary care physician and then to the sports medicine clinic.
Campus Health has become her ideal professional home. “No clinic is as accessible, comprehensive and as tuned into being what students need as this one,” Dr. Waicus said. She noted that everyone in the building has the common goal of helping our students be as successful as possible. “We are not just making sure students don’t miss class, or that mental health red flags are not being missed. We are supporting students to be the very best that they can. Not just to make it through – but to be their best.”
Dr. Waicus’ specialty is the primary care of athletes – both varsity and non-varsity. "The entire student body is a highly motivated, tuned in population,” she says. “It’s a nice population to work with when my goal is to get people back to what they love to do.” That expertise means she offers some of the most holistic care possible. She considers the injury or illness, the person, and the sport in her prognosis. “Part of the expertise in sports medicine is not simply knowing how to treat a sprained ankle, but knowing how much that ankle impacts the athlete’s life,” she said. “Telling patients to ‘just take time off’ does not always work. I have to talk through what kind of time off and modify activities appropriately for that person and their sport.” She shares this expertise with medical students and residents that rotate through the clinic. “They learn joint exams and injury patterns, but they also take away the importance of understanding what athletics mean to our patients.”
Advice for Students
When asked if she had any advice to offer students, her thoughts turned towards being an empowered health consumer. “Days of the white-coated doctor who completely dictates a treatment plan whether you like it or think you can follow through with it are becoming obsolete. People are well educated. Information is out there, and options are available. People need to be active participants in their health care,” Dr. Waicus said. Her advice rings true. With more patients coming to doctors armed with internet search results, doctors and patients are negotiating a new, collaborative relationship. “Keep an open mind,” reminded Dr. Waicus, “and don’t diagnose yourself. But be your own health care advocate.”
In her life outside of Campus Health, Dr. Waicus is a mom of two busy kiddos and a dog – a golden retriever/jack russell mix. “We just had the dog’s DNA tested,” she said. “I saw an ad on Skymall and sent it off.” She clarified that she has only ordered that one item from Skymall magazine. “I stopped short of the lightsaber,” she laughed.
Come see for yourself!
You can find Dr. Waicus in the Sports Medicine area on the first floor of Campus Health, at the Stalling Evans Center or at the home games for her teams.