When she’s not treating patients as a third-year pediatric resident at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Kara Dickey, D.O., is tearing up the trails on her bike. For the last few years, Dr. Dickey has competed in professional cycling events and even a few triathlons.
Dr. Dickey grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, before attending the University of Dayton for undergraduate education. She was active in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. It was there that she was introduced to the option to attend medical school through the military’s Health Professions Scholarship Program. Dickey attended medical school at Rocky Vista University in Parker, Colorado.
The scholarship made sense, as Dr. Dickey wanted a career in the Air Force. The biggest call, however, was children. She loved working with children even before deciding to attend medical school.
“Kids are incredibly resilient when they're sick and I really enjoy interacting with them on a daily basis, from newborns to adolescents. I also love that, as a pediatrician, you're able to encourage healthy lifestyle habits which will serve them well as adults,” Dickey said. “I enjoy building rapport and relationships with families, from sick visits to well visits, as their children grow.”
But stress comes with any job, and Dr. Dickey has found that cycling helps her keep up with the demands of residency. There are many lessons that she’s learned, from persevering through hard times to the value of preparation.
She got involved with cycling during her first year of residency while she was training for her first triathlon. But she got her first bike while she was in medical school. Dr. Dickey loved going for bike rides around the city of Denver.
“I first started cycling in medical school because it was a great workout and I was able to relax and relieve stress. I have continued cycling for those reasons and because I enjoy spending time with friends while doing something I love,” Dickey said. “Every day of cycling is different, and I enjoy the constant physical and mental challenge it provides.”
Dr. Dickey is a member of Five Seasons Sports Club in Dayton. She is very active with the cycling club Team Logik. She enjoys cycling with her fiancé, his family, as well as other friends from residency.
In 2017, she completed her first triathlon. She qualified for, and competed in, USA Triathlon’s Age Group National Championships in Cleveland. That same year, Dickey also completed her first half Ironman in Delaware. This year, she trained for and completed Ironman Mont-Tremblant in Canada. She also plans to compete in a few cyclocross races in the future, and will compete in more cycling races next year.
“Cycling, as well as training for long-distance triathlons has taught me a lot about perseverance, mental toughness, managing adversity, and being comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Dickey said. “When you're halfway through a 100-mile bike ride and you're not feeling the best, it can feel overwhelming. Completing long rides is similar to taking on other tasks that feel overwhelming, like studying for the Pediatrics Board Exam. Take a couple deep breaths, stay calm, break it down into small tasks and just keep pedaling.”
After completing residency, Dr. Dickey hopes to serve as a military chief resident for a year. She will then continue her service with the U.S. Air Force, working as an outpatient pediatrician.
— Daniel Kelly