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Board member Dr. Middlemist blazing a trail lined with community service :

June 28, 2018

Dr. MiddlemistGrowing up with a sister who has diabetes, Martha C. Middlemist, M.D., FAAP, learned at a young age the critical role a pediatrician can play.

Her identical twin sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when the girls were 9. It wasn’t unusual for their mother to bring all the kids — there were nine in all — to the pediatrician’s office.

“I spent a lot of time with her, in and out of the hospital and going from doctor's appointment to doctor’s appointment,” Dr. Middlemist said. “Our own family pediatrician had such an impact on our family growing up that he became one of us. He was an incredible human being and a real role model for all of us. He took incredible care of my sister’s diabetes, and he took incredible care of my entire family. Medicine, and pediatrics in general, always sparked my interest.”

That spark eventually ignited her own pediatric career, blazing a trail lined with community service, a deep interest in juvenile diabetes research and key advocacy roles within the field. It also has led to high-level AAP leadership positions, including her recent election as board member.

After graduating from the University of Denver with a biology degree, Dr. Middlemist earned her medical degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1992. She completed her residency at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Colorado, which reinforced her decision to specialize in treating children.

“Kids are completely innocent. They didn’t choose to have the problems they have. They’ve never smoked, they’ve never drank, lived a sedentary lifestyle or eaten unhealthy foods,” she said. “As patients, they are never mad at you. They are resilient. They heal quickly, they bounce back.”

Dedication to the Academy

A native of Colorado, Dr. Middlemist moved to the Denver area after her residency and began work with Pediatrics 5280, a 10-physician practice in suburban Englewood, in 1996. She joined the Academy a short time later, after a senior partner left information about the Colorado Chapter on her desk.

“And the rest is history,” she said. “I got busy with the chapter, and then I got asked if I wanted to do anything at a national level.”

Indeed, Dr. Middlemist has dedicated countless hours to the Academy on the state and national levels during the past two decades.

She has served as treasurer, legislative co-chair and president of the Colorado Chapter. In 2010, she received the James Strain Award, which recognizes an individual’s deep commitment to community pediatrics and public service.

“She has had a huge hand in helping Medicaid issues in Colorado and helping get the funding, which is always in jeopardy,” said John C. Bosley, M.D., FAAP, a longtime friend who is president of Pediatrics 5280. “Her efforts at the state level have made a huge impact for kids.”

Representing diversity

On the national level, she is a member of the Council on Community Pediatrics. After becoming District VIII vice chair in 2011, she recently was elected as district chair, representing pediatricians in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.

District VIII represents urban and rural areas. It’s also one of the four AAP districts that includes Canadian provinces, making the region’s district even more diverse.

“We are fortunate enough to benefit from the unique perspectives of the Canadian provinces. We learn a lot from them, and I often think that we should take some of the things they do and apply them here,” Dr. Middlemist said. “With all our diversity, District VIII has established the closest friendships. We all have become connected and really good friends. They are my pediatric family outside of Colorado.”

As vice chair, her commitment to the district earned her the nickname “the fairy godmother.” Her colleagues praise her dedication and organizational skills, key attributes when working with a diverse region.

“She's very thorough and prepared. The lines of communication are always open,” said Kyle Yasuda, M.D., FAAP, who was District VIII chair before becoming AAP president-elect earlier this year. “I can always count on her for those things, which makes working with her so much easier. I never have to worry.”

In addition to her work with the Academy, Dr. Middlemist served on the American Board of Pediatrics general pediatrics exam committee from 2010-’17 and has represented community pediatrics on the Children’s Hospital Colorado board of directors for the past four years. She also is an associate professor of primary care at the hospital.

“She understands the business aspects of pediatrics and providing medicine in all types of ways,” said Dr. Bosley, whose children are Dr. Middlemist’s patients. “Without her in this AAP role, our group would be much further behind in a number of measures. She is very aware that at the end of the day, we’re also a business that needs to keep afloat to be able to care for children and their families and to provide jobs for the 50 employees we have and their families ... to keep doing what we need to do.”

Dr. Middlemist also has maintained a keen interest in juvenile diabetes research — and not just because of her sister’s challenges. Her son was diagnosed with the disease when he was 3 and now is a financial planner in the Dallas area.

Enjoying travel, golf and the ‘second generation’

Dr. Middlemist speaks daily with her twin sister, who is a lawyer. She also plays golf with her 86-year-old father every week and enjoys traveling with her husband, son and college-age daughter.

And after more than two decades in private practice, she enjoys treating the second generation.

“It is such a compliment when your former patients want you to see their own kids. I love seeing the moms turn into grandmas,” she said. “It is the one specialty where you see them go from diapers to becoming rocket scientists. It’s just a very positive profession.”

Colorado native Martha C. Middlemist, M.D., FAAP, takes to the slopes with husband Scott and children Peter and Claire.

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