Q & A with Dr. Kerry MaherBeyond Magazine
Jun 28, 2022
Kerry A. Maher, PT, MD, is Brooks’ Senior Vice President of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Consulting and Education, and Medical Director of Admissions. Dr. Maher joined Brooks Rehabilitation in 2004 as a consulting physician. After assuming several leadership positions within Brooks, she officially joined the executive team in 2020. Dr. Maher has become one of Brooks’ most recognized ambassadors, lecturing throughout the southeast and nationally about rehabilitation.
She received her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia and practiced as a licensed physical therapist for three years. She then earned her medical degree at the Medical College of Georgia. Dr. Maher completed her internship in internal medicine at the Medical College of Georgia and a three-year residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Northwestern University.
You began your career as a physical therapist. What got you interested in PT to begin with?
I became interested back in the eighth grade. There was a television series called Medical Center, starring Chad Everett. In one show I saw them work with a person where they had parallel bars. I’ll never forget it. They had to get the patient up on parallel bars and teach them how to walk again. I don’t remember what the patient’s diagnosis was but I remember thinking, “I want to do that.” I think I always wanted the healthcare field, and always wanted to help people.
What was your thought process going from PT to physician?
Well, as a physical therapist, I felt like I had one snapshot of the patient’s care which was of course very important. But I wanted to know the entire recovery process from the beginning – the ER, how the patient was diagnosed, how they were initially treated medically or surgically, and then the rehabilitation – the whole spectrum of the patient journey.
After your PM&R residency, you spent a number of years at the University of Alabama Medical Center. What did you like about the academic environment?
I liked the camaraderie in academics. You were expected to teach medical students but also residents and fellows. It was very cutting edge and you collaborated with people from all different specialties of medicine. I really enjoyed that.
What was a deciding factor on coming to Brooks?
I was impressed with Brooks’ reputation in the community and felt that I could contribute to help make it the world-class organization it is today. During my interview, the then Brooks CMO asked me what I really wanted to do in the role. I told her I wanted to do consults and grow Brooks’ relationships throughout the community. Right then and there she said, “When do you want to start?”
With everything you do at Brooks, what’s most important to you?
What’s very important to me is empathy, compassionate care and the patient experience. A smile – even through a mask – and a laugh with a patient, or sharing something personal, like even your favorite football team, will make them smile and that could mean a positive day for them. We get to know each patient as an individual, and we are privileged to be a part of their lives during some of their most difficult times.