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From patient to pediatrician: Graduate finds hope in hospitals

Whitney Walker • 5/13/19

From patient to pediatrician: Graduate finds hope in hospitals

For Hayley Grzych, hospitals are a place for miracles. Miracles she’s seen—and lived firsthand. Born as a conjoined twin, Hayley underwent more than 40 surgeries as a child. These experiences led her to become a pediatric physician.

“When I think back on all my time spent in the hospital, I remember it as a place of miracles and unwavering hope,” Hayley said. “Thanks to the inspiration of my many amazing physicians it is also where my dream to become a pediatric physician was born.”

The nature of Hayley’s condition came as a complete surprise to her parents. A shock the Lowell, Indiana couple took in stride. As her biggest champions, Hayley’s parents never let the circumstances of her birth define her.

“Though my health problems were often present, they weren’t the focus of my life,” Hayley said. “My parents made sure I had every opportunity. I did dance for 10 years. I did cheerleading for five years. And luckily, I had doctors who would always work around my life. I didn’t have to miss my cheerleading competitions.”

Rock for Riley

Hayley Grzych in her white coat in front of a brick wall

Hayley Grzych in her white coat

When the time came for Hayley to apply to medical schools, Indiana University School of Medicine stood out. It was where many of her beloved physicians had completed their training. Hayley also wanted to stay near Riley Children’s Hospital. After spending many days at Riley as a patient, Hayley enjoyed supporting patients as a volunteer and later as a physician-in-training with Rock for Riley.

“It was really fulfilling to raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital by organizing concerts and 5K run with Rock for Riley,” Hayley said. “I love going to see live music and try to always have a concert to look forward to. It was great to be able to put a concert on for a good cause.”

A passion for pediatrics

During medical school, Hayley’s affinity for pediatric medicine flourished. She had found “her people.” Hayley quickly learned that long clinical shifts flew by when she was working in pediatrics units.

“I feel a true personal connection to the pediatric patients,” Hayley said. “I’ve been in their shoes and I can very clearly remember all of the emotions associated with being in a big scary hospital as a child. Any time I could utilize my past experiences to figure out how to better care for a patient, I knew I was on the right career path.”

Hayley will soon continue her medical training at St. Louis University. There, she will begin a pediatrics residency—something she’s been looking forward to now for years. She can’t wait to continue to help children—some of her favorite types of people.

A story of support

Class of 2019 student, Hayley Grzych and her family at graduation.

Hayley Grzych and her family at graduation.

Hayley said she can’t thank her support system enough. She said her family, friends, cat (whose name is Angel) and lead advisor Kelly Matthews helped her get to where she is today.

“While I’ve faced many challenges in life, I’ve never let them prevent me from reaching my goals,” Hayley said. “So, with the endless support and encouragement from my amazing family, I am now a physician.”

Hayley said she hopes that by sharing her story she can inspire fellow physicians and patients—much like how others’ stories and support have inspired her.

Author

Whitney Walker

A self-described (but confirmed by everyone who knows her) nerd, Whitney coordinates communications for faculty, staff and medical student education. When Whitney's not searching for great IU School of Medicine stories or wrangling the MD student newsletter, she's likely out searching for a cool new coffee shop or doting over her 25 (and counting) houseplants. Contact Whitney at wmwalker@iu.edu.