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Childhood toy may have sparked Oaklawn physician's surgical career

MARSHALL – The toy doctor’s kit Theresa Klee received for her fourth birthday may have been the inspiration that blossomed into a medical career. She even has a photo of herself with the kid-tailored paraphernalia, which included a playtime stethoscope and plastic syringe. 

“I do remember always wanting to be a doctor,” said the native of the town of Ubly, in Michigan’s Thumb region. “It was always my drive. My parents told me that, when I was 4 years old, I told them I was going to be a brain surgeon.” 

Brain surgery wasn’t in her destiny, but Klee’s childhood desire clearly steered her toward her actual career as a general surgeon. Klee recently joined the Oaklawn Medical Group in that capacity, and will be based with General Surgical Associates in Suite 3E of the Wright Medical Building, 215 E. Mansion St. Inquiries may be made by calling (269) 781-4267. 

After graduation from high school in Ubly, Klee went on to discover that she had a natural aptitude for surgical skills. That became evident during a specialized university class. 

“It was very intriguing to me,” Klee said. “I loved the various procedures and it clicked with me. Later, during my first day in the operating room, I just had a sudden feeling that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

In 2008, Klee received a bachelor of science degree in physiology from Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs College, and in 2012 earned her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Iowa-based Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

In 2017, she completed her general surgery residency at Warren-based St. John Providence Health System. Since then, she has worked with Great Lakes Surgical Associates in Alma. 

In addition to certification in general surgery by the American Osteopathic Association, Klee is certified in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support and advanced trauma life support. She is a member of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons, the American Osteopathic Association, the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Breast Surgeons. 

“Everyone in medicine wants to help their patients, but surgery is something you do for your patient that they can’t do for themselves,” Klee said. “Being able to do something physically that helps the patient get better is very fulfilling.” 

In her spare time, Klee enjoys baking desserts such as cookies, cupcakes and quick breads. Already a world traveler with visits to Europe under her belt, she says she has “a whole bucket list” of future travel destinations, such as Italy, the Middle East and Cambodia.

“I also have a goal to go to all 50 U.S. states,” she said. “I’m just under halfway there now.”

Klee said she’s also looking forward to her future professional work at Oaklawn. 

“Oaklawn has the support staff to care for a wide variety of patients and offers a variety of surgical specialties,” Klee said. “I like that, because I have a major interest in breast surgery. Plus, everyone is super friendly.”

Klee, who was unfamiliar with Marshall before taking the new position, has moved from her former Ubly address and taken up residence here.

“I grew up in a small town and I love Marshall’s small-town feeling while having access to larger towns nearby,” Klee said. “I love the character of the downtown, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of restaurants and stores that are available. I think I’ll definitely feel right at home.”

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