One of our most devoted local doctors is retiring. It is a loss to our area, however, a well-deserved rest from years of work.
Kathryn Bryan, M.D., a self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” who has Wisconsin roots and loves the Green Bay Packers, will finally have the time to enjoy sports, water, her children and granddaughter.
Her last official day of work is Sept. 7. She splits time between Epworth Crossing in Newburgh and Westside Crossing in Evansville. Bryan is moving to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She was planning to retire there with her fiancé, Steven Bush, but sadly, he died on June 25.
“My mom is the most loving, caring and kind woman you’ll ever meet,” said her daughter Marisa Patwa. “She has the kind of heart that just touches you so deeply. So I’m not surprised that she’s received so many flowers and cards from her patients over the years.”
Patwa said her favorite part of childhood was staying up all night at the hospital with her mom and twin sister, Breana, during her mother’s overnight shifts.
“It wasn’t that my mom didn’t have another option for someone to watch us,” Patwa said. “It was that my mom just genuinely wanted to spend more time with us.”
Bryan, 60, added that she felt so guilty being a working mother.
“And often times, we’d play before (Marisa) fell asleep,” Bryan said.
Patwa loved bonding with her mother during those visits.
“I remember just eating my Ramen noodles, reading my alligator book and cozying up in my blankets on this makeshift bed my mom had set up in the floor of her dark office,” Patwa said. “And I would just look up at my mom dictating X-rays in absolute awe of her. She was my mom but also this incredibly professional woman who all the nurses looked up to. She was like royalty but treated everyone like equals. An even though she’s retiring, she’ll always be my queen.”
Patwa said her mom is also an incredible artist, had a crush on her guitar teacher as a teenager, studied in Barcelona during one summer in college and just within the past few months has become a vegan — except on her rare “cheat” days.
“She is also a total ‘Cheesehead’ since she grew up in Wisconsin,” Patwa said. “She also has to live on water. The past four houses she’s lived in were all on lakes and she’s taking that same mindset to the beach. My mom also loves to read thriller novels and loves horror movies. ‘Jaws’ is one of her faves.”
Bryan discovered in middle school that she really enjoyed biology. When she was in high school, she was a member of the Medical Explorer Scouts and had the opportunity to talk with various medical professionals, including physicians.
“That experience enhanced my desire to become a physician,” Bryan said. “My dad also influenced me. He was an M.D. Ph.D., mostly conducting research into bladder cancer as a Professor of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where I grew up.”
Bryan attended UW as a biology major. She attended Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where she graduated with an M.D. in 1983. During her rotations, she most enjoyed radiology.
“I have always been a visual person, having developed an interest in drawing and painting as I grew up,” Bryan said.
“That, in conjunction with the fact that all the interesting cases filtered through radiology (so you got to see a wide variety of diseases), made me choose radiology as a specialty,” Bryan said.
She attended the University of Illinois Diagnostic Radiology Residency program in Chicago, mostly at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, serving as the chief resident her senior year. Bryan graduated the program in 1987.
“I knew I wanted to mostly focus on women’s imaging because I enjoyed interacting with women patients,” she said. “It is very gratifying to get to know patients, some well enough that they will accept a supportive hug and encouraging words. Some even send nice letters and flowers. That personal side of my practice is what I have always enjoyed most.”
After she completed her residency, she started working as an attending radiology physician at Advocate Christ Medical Center (a large hospital in Chicago) as the section head of the breast imaging department. She spent 18 years there in that capacity; she then spent several years in the breast imaging section at the Ohio State University in Columbus.
During the past eight years, Bryan has worked locally at St. Vincent’s Breast Center.
“I will be hanging up my shingle this fall as I transition into retirement,” she said. “I am sad to stop seeing patients and working in the highly competent, personal staff at the Breast Center.”