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Dr. Kaitlin Mahoney '13

Kaitlin Mahoney at NY marathon 2019

Dr. Kaitlin Mahoney ’13 is in her element. The Exercise Chemistry graduate is now in training as Primary Care Sports Medicine Physician with the University of Tennessee. She sees patients at a family medicine clinic and at the UT student health center. She is learning from neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, doctors of physical therapy and athletic trainers and is gaining experience as a team physician with the Knoxville Ice Bears.

Becoming a physician and working with athletes of all kinds has been on Mahoney’s radar for as long as she can remember.

“When I was at McDaniel, I absolutely loved the exercise science courses and performance lab working directly with athletes,” she says. “At that point I thought my way into doing that would be through endocrinology and nutrition; however, during my first year of medical school I found out about Primary Care Sports Medicine and decided that was the perfect fit.”

“I was able to present that research at the American College of Sports Medicine conference during my senior year,” Mahoney says. “Not many pre-med students get the opportunity to do hands-on research in a lab with direct access to professors one-on-one, so that was an extremely valuable opportunity I have to thank Dr. McKenzie and Dr. McCole for leading.”

Even today, after graduating from New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine and a three-year Family Medicine residency, Mahoney hasn’t waivered on her choice at all. After her fellowship, she plans to work in a community caring for “athletes” of all types and ages with goals ranging from strength to pain-free walking.

“I enjoy the clinic setting where I can talk and get to know my patient and also care for their families and friends,” she says.

Mahoney arrived on campus in 2009 a self-described “shy college kid with big dreams.”

“McDaniel was the perfect home for me,” she says. “McDaniel provided me all the resources to do exactly what I needed and wanted to do. I know I met all the right people there to set me up for success and feel strongly that it was the best place for me.”

The two-sport athlete – lacrosse and field hockey – chose Exercise Chemistry (now Chemistry-Kinesiology dual major) because she thought exercise was fun and believed learning to maximize health in already healthy athletes would help her take care of sick people. The Chemistry side of her major allowed her to fulfill med school requirements, but it wasn’t until her junior year that she discovered osteopathic medicine.

“I felt that that was a perfect fit for me because of the extra emphasis on the musculoskeletal system,” Mahoney says. “It definitely gave me more experience with physical exams and more tools to help my patients and athletes with manipulation experience.”

Every aspect of Mahoney’s experience on the Hill helped her fulfill those big dreams.

“Playing lacrosse and field hockey taught me the discipline to work hard, show up on time, and take care of myself,” she says, adding that she joined a club in med school with other students to work out a few times a week and ended up participating in races with them. “It was an awesome outlet and helped me get through the years of isolated studying.”

During her third year of med school, Mahoney dove into CrossFit and started working as a coach. A valuable professional experience and gateway to strongman, she participated in United States Strongman Nationals during her first year of residency.

“I credit my athletic experience at McDaniel to a lot of my success because it pushed me to work hard both mentally and physically and drilled a lot of discipline habits that will stay with me forever.”

Her capstone research project studying metabolic responses to high intensity exercises with professors Steve McCole and Jennifer McKenzie was a talking point nearly a decade later at interviews for her fellowship.

“I was able to present that research at the American College of Sports Medicine conference during my senior year,” Mahoney says. “Not many pre-med students get the opportunity to do hands-on research in a lab with direct access to professors one-on-one, so that was an extremely valuable opportunity I have to thank Dr. McKenzie and Dr. McCole for leading.”

Medical school, naturally, presented a huge learning curve, but Mahoney’s studies at McDaniel helped ease her transition.

“Anatomy and physiology as well as biology, biochemistry, and organic chemistry were all helpful for the first year,” she says. “And here’s extra motivation for those who are struggling with organic chemistry – you are not alone but the hard work pays off!”

The shy college kid with big dreams has had equally big accomplishments. But her favorite memories are fairly simple and personal.

“Wow, it’s tough to say what was the best part of my experience on the Hill,” she says. “But some of my best memories were from just studying in the dorms with friends that have since become like family!”

About Dr. Mahoney

Career: Sports Medicine physician

Class: 2013

Major: Exercise Chemistry (now Chemistry-Kinesiology)