The same year that Dr. Alison Nash, general pediatrician, was born in 1955, her father Dr. Homer Nash opened his medical practice in North St. Louis.
Alison, a third-generation physician, joined her father’s office on 3737 N. Kingshighway Blvd. in 1989, after serving as a physician in the U.S. Navy. She is now treating fourth-generation patients.
“It’s a family business, and that’s really the important word,” Alison said. “We are a family who are about families. It makes it fun to talk to the parents, and they remember when my father gave them a shot. All these families have trust in what we provide, and I definitely don’t take that lightly. That’s very important to me.”
Complementing her private practice, Alison has also held a number of leadership roles at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and throughout the medical community.
On Saturday, May 5, Dr. Alison Nash will receive the 2012 Stellar Performer in Health Care at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Health Care Awards Luncheon at the Frontenac Hilton.
On a given day, her office sees about 60 patients a day – during flu season it’s more. By working with three nurse practitioners, Alison has been able to expand the family practice and serve more children, said Dr. Homer Nash, who received the St. Louis American Foundation’s 2009 Lifetime Achiever award.
When Homer moved his office to Kingshighway from Grand Boulevard in 1965, he said it was “upper class for black doctors.” As time passed, many of the other doctors in that office moved to St. Louis County.
“When my daughter came, I was wondering if she wanted to join the flight to the suburbs,” Homer said. “But she was interested in staying with folks who needed good medical care.”
The office sees primarily children who receive their health insurance from the state’s Medicaid program.
Alison is also deeply involved with Children’s Hospital because she said that’s where she refers her patients.
“It’s important that I know what’s going on there, so I can feel confident that I am making the best choice for the patients if they need specialty care,” she said.
Alison just finished her two-year term as president of Children’s Hospital medical staff, and prior to that she was the president-elect for two years.
Dr. Perry Schoenecker, acting orthopedic surgeon in chief at Children’s Hospital, works with Alison when he treats her patients.
“She is a plus to any medical staff because of her busy practice, and a lot of patients that come to Children’s Hospital are Alison’s patients,” said Schoenecker, who is also a professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University and is chief of staff at St. Louis Shriners Hospital for Children. “She is highly respected by all, in all regards.”
When Schoenecker was the previous president-elect for the medical staff, he supported Alison in her leadership role. He is now the president of the medical staff. He said Alison was effective in implementing new ways of re-credentialing the hundreds of doctors at Children’s. She was also highly concerned about diversity in the hospital, he said.
“Her overall steady hand was very much appreciated at meetings,” he said. “She is very much somebody who could compromise and get us moving in the right direction and move on.”
For the past 21 years, Alison has been mentoring pediatric residents through Children’s COPE program (Community Outpatient Practice Experience), which is a pediatric residency-training program. Alison agreed to supervise and teach residents primary care in her outpatient office. Most pediatric residents complete a three-year residency, so committing to this program means committing to three years of working with a resident.
“The feedback from the residents has all been enthusiastic of her office and her teaching,” said Karen Wickline, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the COPE program. “She is a great mentor.”
Wickline said Alison particularly excels at working with adolescent patients. “She has a great reputation for being wonderful with teenagers,” Wickline said. “She seems to understand and care for them extra well.”
When working with teenage mothers, this understanding is particularly important, she said.
“As a community colleague, I admire her greatly,” she said. “She has been so involved in everything at Children’s Hospital. She deserves this award and we applaud her and thank her for her participation in our program.”
In Alison’s practice, one of the main challenges she sees among her patients is asthma. To stay abreast with the best care, she stays active in research, particularly with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and the Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium.
Alison has four children of her own and a wonderful husband, Clarence Dula, who without him, “all these things I’m doing I couldn’t have done,” she said.
“We are making a positive impact on the children in this community,” Alison said. “And we do our part to partner with the parents so we have wonderfully, healthy children.”