Dr. Allek Scheele attended the University of Missouri where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Medicinal Chemistry with a minor in Classical Mythology, as well as her MD. After her education at Mizzou, she moved to the University of Kansas in Kansas City for her residency in Pediatrics and stayed on for a year as Chief Resident. During that time, Dr. Sheele was a primary care pediatrician where she staffed the same day sick visit clinic and rounded on newborns in the nursery and on hospitalized children in the inpatient unit. She is now a first year Pediatric Hospital Medicine Fellow at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Her areas of interest include pediatric/adolescent substance use and exposure. Dr. Scheele is working on a project identifying marijuana positivity incidence over the last 5 years, as well as helping with the opioid stewardship efforts and assisting with the new Opioid Addiction consult service.
What motivated you to pursue addiction medicine certification?
My interest started in residency when I heard a moving talk at the AAP conference about opioid addiction in adolescents. It lead me to look into the data and I found that a fire had been lit in me as a pediatrician to help curb the epidemic. I found myself doing my senior conference on the topic and was shocked when I was constantly met with denial that this is a pediatric problem. I was lucky enough to spend some time in the only inpatient substance use treatment facility in Kansas, where I got to meet a number of great young people who are struggling and got to hear their stories. The fact that so many teens have a hard time getting treatment because of the lack of provider availability has fueled much of my interests.
What ideas do you have that can help build a better community of addiction medicine professionals?
I am really excited to be a pediatric champion for addiction medicine. I feel like many people don’t think of this as a pediatric problem, and it very much is. Adolescents are a very special group of people and I am eager to help them in any way to simplify their access to quality care.
Thinking back, what has been your most challenging patient case and how did you overcome that challenge?
I think the most challenging case for me was an adolescent patient. Adolescents are special people who don’t have a great handle on risk assessment and long-term consequences. That can make counseling them difficult, especially for the ones who make unsafe choices because they don’t have a safe support system. I try to convince them I am not trying to be a killjoy but a person who is looking out for them. I don’t have a great answer to that problem. I have found that if I have the luxury of time I can spend it listening to where they are coming from, so I can build that trust that we need to have a constructive relationship.
What advice or words of wisdom do you have for physicians on the fence about pursuing addiction medicine as a career?
Try to look past any media biases you may see as a deterrent and think about the individuals you have encountered who have benefited from treatment. Think about how many of those good people are struggling to find someone to help them.
Question from our last participant: What is your favorite meal – give details?
I really love surf and turf. On my honeymoon we had fresh-caught lobster with a butter sauce and a fillet that has a garlic butter pat melting on top of it. It was divine! There were probably potatoes off to the side.
Finally, let’s have some fun. What is that burning question you have for our next MI CARES participant in the spotlight?
What is your favorite thing to do in the winter?