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OLIVET –Jamie Kantola grew up with a mother who was a strong advocate for those in need.
“She was a very generous person with her time and resources,” Kantola recalled, pointing to her mother’s altruistic influence that – combined with the young girl’s own love of science – fostered her interest in family medicine.
Now Kantola is reaching out on her own, setting up a family practice specializing in obstetrics at Oaklawn Medical Group’s office at 202 N Main St., Olivet.
“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor ever since I was little,” the Okemos resident said. “Science was my favorite subject in school. I was always interested in the way things worked.”
Kantola looks back on her early life in Rudyard, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with an understanding of the benefits of living in a small rural town, although she recognized that obtaining complete medical care was relatively difficult.
“I graduated with 60 people in my graduating class, and my father was the principal of my school,” she said. “There were fewer medical resources. We had to drive an hour away for medical care.
“That has a big impact on family medicine, and the physicians have to deliver babies and look after everyone in the family,” she said. “Family physicians have an all-encompassing approach to medicine, which appealed to me.”
Although no one in Kantola’s family was in the medical field, the exposure she had to her mother’s community efforts combined with her own strong curiosity to produce an interest in science.
“I was in high school and I took anatomy class with a teacher who was very supportive of women in science. She was supportive of my decision to pursue medical school – as a doctor – and I declared my major as pre-med from day one.”
Kantola received a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Michigan State University in 2006, and partially completed a master of social work program at Grand Valley State University from 2007 to 2009.
She recently completed a residency program in family medicine at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, under the auspices of the MSU’s College of Human Medicine, from which she obtained her medical degree in 2014.
One aspect of her professional work reflects upon Kantola’s past as an advocate of community involvement and social outreach.
In past years, she has worked as a rehabilitative specialist with mentally disabled clients with social behavior modification, and as a caseworker serving adolescent and homeless youth.
“My big area of interest is actually nutrition and physical fitness,” Kantola said. Her work in that field has included teaching nutrition to elementary students, service as a homeless shelter volunteer in Lansing and as a provider of nutrition education to children and families. She has taught community nutrition in several settings.
A few years ago, Kantola’s clinical education featured a rotation at Oaklawn’s psychiatric unit in Marshall, bringing her twice weekly to the area. She already was familiar with the region because her husband of 14 years, Ken Bradley, played football at Olivet College. Bradley is a teacher of 6-12 physical education in Fowler.
“I was looking for a place where I could do family medicine and obstetrics in a smaller community,” Kantola said. “I like that small-community feel. That’s where I’m comfortable. I’m looking forward to practicing in a smaller community.”
The couple have two daughters, Raina, who is just under a year old, and 15-year-old Abby, who is a competitive gymnast.
“So, most of my extracurricular activities have to do with watching gymnastics, being a mom, and having a baby. It doesn’t leave much time for much else,” Kantola said, adding that the family enjoys travel near her hometown in the Upper Peninsula.