Alabama Woman Returns to Health Clinic - This Time as Doctor

Growing up poor, Carey McDade remembers her grandmother taking her to the Franklin Primary Health clinic in Mobile, Ala.

Today, McDade, 30,  is back — this time as Dr. McDade, working as a pediatrician at the federally subsidized health clinic she used go to as a child.

“It was hard growing up, my grandmother and my aunt raised me,” she said. “They never gave the attitude, 'we’re poor,' ever.”

McDade, who just started working this summer, said she could have made more money at other practices, but she decided to return to Mobile and work in her community.

"Yes, I could be somewhere where I make more money," McDade admits. "They’re not the ones who need an example.”

Franklin, a group of federally subsidized health care clinics in Mobile and surrounding counties, serve thousands of low-income families in the area. It’s a federally qualified health center, meaning it provides primary care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay at the time.

Patients who are not covered by insurance are charged based on a sliding scale that takes into account family size and household income.

“Everyone has been happy to see me, even the patients,” she said. “They’ve been happy to see someone from the community.”

The path McDade took was not an easy one. But at a young age, she remembers making a conscious effort to make sacrifices in order to study.

“If I want to make it somewhere, I knew it was not going to be handed to me. I’m going to have to work for it, my grandmother instilled that in me,” McDade said.“I would just come home, do my homework, knowing that when I finished that was what is going to help.”

McDade was a J.L. Bedsole scholar, a program that awards top performing students from Southwest Alabama for their leadership ability. After a lot of hard work she eventually graduated from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in 2008.

She was later accepted into a residency program where she specialized in pediatrics at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Fla.

Being on the job for about a month now, there is one thing McDade is working on — less talking.

“I tend to run over a little bit,” she said. I’m working on that.”

McDade hopes her enthusiasm and service at Franklin will inspire someone else in the community, who just like her, always dreamed of becoming a doctor.

“I was always the person who says, 'I want to be an example to someone else,'" she said.