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Physician Profile: Meet Kate Sigford, MD

Jan 03, 2018 08:51AM ● By The Hood Magazine

As a child, Kathryn “Kate” Sigford swore she would never be a doctor. Both of her parents had gone back to medical school after she was born and she remembers not envying their journey.

“I thought it just looked like an awful lot of work,” admits Sigford, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist who was recently named Medical DIrector of Rehabilitation Services at LifeScape.

Although she was not interested in becoming a physician, the St. Paul, Minnesota native was attracted to healthcare as a way to use her intellect and help people. So she became a nursing assistant with her eye on nursing school. But when the BA to BSN program she’d chosen rejected her application, Sigford says she decided to “go for broke” and apply to medical school anyway.

“That’s where I knew I really wanted to be, even though it was going to take longer,” says Sigford. “It forced me to ask myself, ‘Do I want to be fast, or do I want to be in the right place?’?

Sigford attended the University of California at Davis School of Medicine and completed her residency at Stanford. When it came to choosing a specialty, she was drawn to PM&R because it allowed her to focus on the “whole person” rather than a single organ or system.

“The few places that I saw where you got full person care were that and primary care,” she recalls. “But when I started doing my primary care rotation, I realized that I couldn’t do coughs and colds every day!”

Today, Sigford is the only physician in the region who is dual boarded in both physiatry and pediatric rehabilitation medicine. In her leadership role at LifeScape, she hopes to help expand inpatient acute rehabilitation services, most immediately in the area of post-operative care for selective dorsal rhizotomy patients. LifeScape is partnering with Gillette Children’s Specialty Hospital in St. Paul to help bring young rhizotomy patients from the South Dakota region back to LifeScape about halfway through their four- to six-week stay.

“So mom and dad can go home and sleep in their own beds,” says Sigford, who also wants to help raise LifeScape’s profile as an acute inpatient rehabilitation facility.

“There are people even in Sioux Falls who say, ‘Don’t have I have to go to Denver or St. Paul for that?’ We may not have all of the equipment of the bigger programs, but I would put our people and our expertise up against anyone.”

Sigford recently received the Sanford 2017 Advocate for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Award.

Answer to our Web Extra question: Sigford spends her spring and summer training for and running short-distance triathlons.