Choosing to Focus on the Positive: Dr. Brandi Kenner-Bell

brandi kenner bell

People doubted her abilities and questioned her credentials simply based on demographics.

Dr. Brandi M. Kenner-Bell, MD wanted to be a pediatrician since elementary school when she and her classmates held yearly fundraisers for St. Jude Children's Hospital. She doesn’t remember ever wanting to be or do anything else. She loves knowing how to heal people.

Dr. Kenner-Bell completed her MD at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where she continued on to complete her pediatrics residency at Texas Children’s Hospital. She then moved on to a second residency in dermatology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and had her pediatric dermatology fellowship at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Dr. Kenner-Bell is now an assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an author of numerous academic articles on children’s skin conditions. She is also active in the Society for Pediatric Dermatology and is an external marketing committee member.

At Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago where she is a pediatric dermatologist, she strives to do her absolute best for every child and every family. In fact, she says she couldn't sleep at night knowing she'd given anything less.

“The kids bring me joy and give me hope. On your worst day, they can make you smile. Every single one of them deserves to be happy and healthy, able to put their best foot forward feeling confident and loved.”

On Overcoming Challenges & Being a Positive Influence

As a black woman, Dr. Kenner-Bell says people have doubted her abilities and questioned her credentials simply based on her demographics. While it has never stopped her, it is disheartening at times.

Instead of focusing on it, however, she decides to be a positive light for others. “I think people are motivated when they feel supported and encouraged to be their best selves. Every person is different and I try to listen and learn who they are and what they want to be, find out what makes them tick and use that to help them accomplish their goals.” Dr. Kenner-Bell believes that you should never underestimate the power of listening, because when people feel heard, you can almost always figure out how to help heal them.

She has learned much of this from her own mentors. “I have learned so much from so many people along the way. From elementary school through fellowship, there have been people who believed in me, who encouraged me, who taught me, who pushed me, who corrected me, who supported me and all have made me the physician I am today.”

Looking Towards the Future

Dr. Kenner-Bell notes she’s nervous about the future of medicine. That’s because she says it's being treated more and more like a business and doctors and patients are being treated more and more like cogs in a wheel. She tries to remember that “we all became doctors because we wanted to help people”.

So many physicians across all specialties are burnt out. They’re losing their joy in healing people and that worries her. However, Dr. Kenner-Bell is hopeful that together we can change this trajectory by advocating for ourselves and for our patients, as we have always done.

She wanted to leave everyone with these words, “Be your best and know you can always do better. Always make time for yourself and your family. You will be the best doctor when you feel like your best self.”

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Lolly Spindler