Women Rocking The Boat - Dr. Sheila Fountain - Empathy, Silliness & Compassion for Kids08/10/2012 09:26PM ● By Christina Freeman
Story by Kiersten Henry/Photo by Corey Kopischke
Dr. Sheila Fountain
Dr. Sheila Fountain has never met a kid she didn’t like. And in her nine years at Pediatrics of Steamboat Springs, Fountain has seen thousands of patients, ranging in age from just a couple weeks old to 21.
She has a profound capacity for empathy, which while instrumental in her success as a doctor often complicates the job. “The hardest thing for me is watching kids suffer…delivering that news to their parents. You just can’t help but feel what they’re feeling,” Fountain says.
Her empathy for her clients and their families likely has its roots in her own family, including husband, Wes, son, Jonah, and daughter. Olivia.
Fountain’s faint southern accent is a subtle indicator of her origins. The South Carolinian was educated in her native state and went on to instruct residents at Emory University in Atlanta.
Fountain entered college as a chemistry major and didn’t decide to pursue a career in medicine until her junior year. During her pediatric rotation at medical school, she gained insight into the child’s mind and subsequently found her niche. “Children bounce back much faster than adults. I’m also allowed to be silly with them, which makes my job more fun,” Fountain says.
With that genial attitude in mind, the 39-year-old Fountain mentors University of Colorado medical students at her office in Yampa Valley Medical Center. She also volunteers at the Steamboat Christian Center and the Pregnancy Resource Center, and devotes much of her time educating parents and children on how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Having minored in psychology, one of her leading areas of interest within pediatrics is working with children with behavioral problems. But her most difficult patients? The answer probably won’t surprise parents. “Teenagers are the most challenging, but the struggles that they face are really difficult,” she says.
Fountain says one of her greatest privileges as a pediatrician is “watching kids grow with their families.” But there are always two sides of the same coin. For a community that largely defines itself by active kids and supportive families, Dr. Fountain’s dose of playfulness and positivity is just the right prescription.