Hello! I am so glad you are here! I hope that you will find me to be the resource you are looking for. My motto has come to be - in so many ways and in so many different times of my life - "resourcefulness." I lean on this quality in both my professional and private lives consistently.
I am multicultural and multilingual having been born and raised in Kraków, Poland. As a pre-teen, my small family and I ventured to the Chicago area looking for those opportunities that the land of the United States of America was so well known for. Being an immigrant, loving travel, and speaking multiple languages offer me the opportunity to look at things in a way that is out of the standard box.
I am a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I studied Psychology and received minors in Chemistry and Women's Studies. I loved my University time, especially my studies abroad in France where I lived out my dreams and used my French language skills, drew in my sketchbook at the Louvre, and made beautiful lifelong memories.
After I graduated, I went on to do research at Rosalind Franklin University School of Science and Medicine. I was used to research at that time as I did run undergraduate psycho-behavioral studies and data collection for 2 years. I continued my interests at Rosalind Franklin University. I participated in research that combined psychology, psychiatry and general medicine. I published several medical papers and continued medical writing into my medical training years.
During my time dedicated to research, I also took the opportunity to take graduate courses at the well-known Art Institute of Chicago adding to my passion for life drawing and painting. My interests and hobbies have always varied and helped make me a well rounded person.
In 2007, I pursued my childhood dreams of medical studies. It is true, I was the typical story of knowing that I was "called to study and practice medicine." Yet, I found and still find, that there is nothing typical about me. My medical schooling was completed at the top of my class in 2011 from Ross University School of Medicine, which afforded me diverse work in an impoverished country for almost two years. I then ventured back to the United States where I spent my clinical education in multiple hospital systems across the country. I had the opportunity to study and encounter clinics and hospitals which were extremely poor and underfunded all the way to the extremely rich and beautiful hospitals. This exposed me to various populations of people and taught me communications skills that well adapt in various situations with various people.
After a lot of time studying and traveling at the same time, and passing all the required board examinations, I settled to complete my Pediatric Residency in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Residency is now affiliated with what is now Western Michigan University, Homer Striker MD, School of Medicine. I completed multiple behavioral and developmental rotations in Michigan and Minnesota and participated in conferences and educational seminars in this filed of my interest. Another passion of mine was neurology as well as taking care of the patients on the hematology/oncology hospital floor.
After graduating from Pediatric Training with focus on neurology, behavior, development and disordered eating, I moved to the West Coast and practiced General Pediatrics with a wonderful large pediatric group in Salem, Oregon. I continued inpatient hospital duties as well. I quickly became the go to physician in the group for children and young adults struggling with development, adjustment, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, Autism and more. I continued to educate myself these areas of interest of behavior, development and wellness by gaining certificates and going on conference for these subjects as well as self-study. I also trained Physician Assistant students as well as Behavioral Medicine Psychology students who taught me a lot in return. I worked with local wellness center to help fill gaps for treatment of children and adolescents with eating disorders as well as became a member of an Autism Diagnostic Team. I learned of a new passion, the trait of Sensory Processing Sensitivity (otherwise termed as High Sensitivity). I have been very lucky.
After a few years in practice, I decided that I did not quite fit the box of the medical system as it was and currently still is. I did not want to have the short 10 or less minute visits which made making rapport with patients difficult. It was filled with days followed by hours spent looking at a computer screen. I wanted to focus my professional life on the well-being of children that may be struggling any any way from developmental delays, behavioral and psychological difficulties, as well as psychosocial and physiological consequences of chronic illnesses. I also wanted to help families lost in the midst of the complex medical system. Many families struggle with understanding the medical teams, diagnoses or lack of diagnoses, procedures, and treatments available. Many find it hard to know how to prioritize many specialists, medical appointments and treatments. I noticed this gap in medical practice while training and in private practice and found it was rarely appropriately addressed. Most of all, I wanted to, and still want, to give my patients and families time and my full attention for as long as they need it.
As I left my medical practice to develop my own philosophy, life had a different plan for my time. Shortly after I left, my mom, who has been my best friend and confidante throughout my life, became ill. There was no question in my mind as to what to do. I had no qualms about returning to the Midwest to be her caretaker and help her through treatments she required and to be present for my family. The good prognosis and positive outlook from all her physicians unfortunately turned tides. I found myself navigating the complex medical system from a much different viewpoint than I was used to. I often wondered how people who do not have all the education and experience I did, manage to follow the broken system. It became again clear to me that this is a gap which needed addressing. My dearly loved mom, unexpectedly and far too early for us all, passed away. My family and I were all left with grief heavier than any of us could imagine. For myself, I found that I was not equipped to manage it for quite a long time.
Since my mom’s passing, day-by-day on waking up, I personally find that a decision has to be made - to live or to hide. Hiding was the answer to this daily question for many of my days. As time goes on, my grief does not heal but it does change. I also see that time does go on, with or without me. As I keep waking up, I choose daily to live and to be of service. To be of Resource. I have far too much experience and too much education under my belt to not have it be a resource to those in need. I find it is my responsibility to share my gift of education and experience.
I do not believe I could have gotten through the grueling years of medical education and training without being extremely resourceful. It was a difficult phase, and a very long one at that, in my life. The passing of my mom proved much more difficult. I still do not know what life has in its plans for me and how difficult or joyous those times will be. My resourcefulness it is fully present when I speak to patients and clients, acquaintance and professionals. I hold on to it as it is naturally there. With grit, determination and this resourcefulness, I get up daily thinking of Zenflower and how to best be of resource, service and help those in need.
My more recent ventures have been consistantly and constantly improving my professional and personal self with reading, attending conferences and gaining more knowledge about all aspects of being human. I keep developing my art skills and services and blending them with medical practice. I wholeheartedly believe there is so much healing in the arts. I am on a personal mission to bring the two together, one step at a time and one day at a time. Much more to be done and to come.
Dear community, nearby and at large, I hope to meet you, your family, your children and be your Resource.
With a full heart of sincerity and care; with brave vulnerability of sharing a little of my own story; and with pure authenticity,
Dr. Monika A. Siedlarz - MD
Years in Practice: 2011-Present
Special Interests, Certifications, Memberships Therein
Polish - Fluent
French - Conversational
PS - I am also an artist and a photographer - find out more at "Zenflower Art and Photography" - www.zenflowerartandphotography.com
www.zenflowerwellness.com (coming soon - with intention to help bridge art and healing)