As the father of four daughters and grandfather of six grandchildren, Dr. Kenneth Graham likes to get together with first-time moms and dads.
“Parents feel like a fish in water for the first time and are always very nervous about being a parent and it’s nice to hold their hand. If I could take care of babies all day long, I would,” he said with a laugh.
Graham, who works at Logan Health Children’s Primary Care, was selected as the best pediatrician in the Daily Inter Lake’s annual Best of the Flathead reader poll.
As a child, Graham wanted to be a doctor, but running errands for doctors at the hospital in Butte made his passion for medicine even greater. When he shared his intention to study medicine, he had the full support of the hospital’s pediatrician, Dr. Dennis McCarthy.
“When I told him I wanted to go to medical school, he said, ‘You have to do it, Ken!’ He was a really good mentor of mine,” said Graham.
With firm confirmation from McCarthy, Graham decided to pursue pediatrics and graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 1991. Years after working as a messenger for the hospital, Graham returned as a doctor.
Between graduating from medical school and working as a physician at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Clinic, Graham served in the Air Force as a pediatrician and was promoted to the rank of major upon completing his service at Sheppard Air Force Base Hospital.
Pediatrics allows Graham to build long-term relationships with families.
“I really like pediatrics because when you do this for as long as I do, you just bond with the families,” he said. “Now I go to the births of children I have cared for and that has been a blessing to me.”
But with every high, there is a low, and Graham has walked through deep valleys with families.
“I was with a family where I had taken care of all their children and the mother had a fourth pregnancy with an anencephalic baby,” he said. “She wanted to bring the baby into the world, even though she knew the baby would die shortly after.”
Having seen children from birth through adulthood, Graham has certainly witnessed a myriad of life-changing events with families across Montana, and he says he couldn’t do it without his team.
“I have such an incredible staff here and I have to give a shout out to my office manager and front desk people and our nurses and an amazing group of partners. We have such a legacy in our clinic of longevity from the people who work for us, because we support each other and are very close,” Graham said.
Even with over 30 years of experience in pediatrics, Graham is still most proud of his work as a father and grandfather.
“Parenting is one of my proudest moments. It spills over into having a lot of experience as a parent and can then bring those areas of expertise into pediatrics,” he said.
Graham enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, skiing, hiking, backpacking and fishing. When not enjoying the outdoors or working, he volunteers at his church and serves as co-medical director of Hope Pregnancy Center.
“We provide great compassionate and evidence-based care and we are very eager to learn about the latest and greatest in treatments,” he said.
In Graham’s office hangs a quote he sticks to: “Live in such a way that if someone speaks badly of you, no one would believe them.”
Graham hopes to continue to make an impact on the lives of his patients and the next generation of pediatricians.
“I would like to be remembered for the service we do here and our heart for children and what we do for the community,” he said.
Reporter Summer Zalesky can be reached at email@example.com