Constable: Drawing of her future self just what doctor ordered

If every child became the adult he or she imagined at age 7, I'd be signing another round of autographs for adoring Chicago Cubs fans today. Instead, I'm writing a Labor Day weekend column about former Inverness resident Tara Troy, who made good on her childhood prediction.

When Troy was 7, she so accurately forecast her future that the drawing she did then now hangs in her new Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health medical office opening this week in Northbrook.

“That's me,” Troy says, pointing to the female doctor she drew standing next to an examination table and a young female patient. A speech bubble above the head of a smiling little girl with a pink bow in her hair reads, “I feel better.” Above the drawing is Troy's dream: “Someday I wish to be a doctor. I can't wait till I grow up and get my first patient.”

When Troy, now 43, was born, nearly 90 percent of doctors in the United States were men. But she had a role model at home in her mother, Martha, a registered nurse. Troy remembers accompanying her mother while she was working toward her master's degree in nursing at the University of Minnesota. She also watched her mother become head of the open-heart intensive care unit at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, where she worked from 1989 through 1999.

“I talked to both (of my daughters) about ability and not to be limited by their sex,” Martha Troy remembers. Her daughter Holly graduated from Northwestern University and got a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business before launching her career in business like her father, Tim, who retired as vice president of logistics for Sears.

“I followed my mom's path and went medical,” says Tara Troy, who graduated from Penn with a degree in biological basis of behavior before going on to Rush Medical College and a gastrointestinal fellowship with the University of Chicago. When she graduated from medical school, her mother gave her the framed drawing she made as a first-grader.

“I saved that one because I thought it was so apt,” her mom says.

Only 6 percent of doctors were women in 1950, but that number rose to nearly 20 percent by 1992, when Troy graduated from Fremd High School in Palatine. By 2015, 36 percent of doctors were women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2017, females enrolled in medical schools outnumbered males for the first time. But only about 13 percent of gastroenterologists are women.

Troy remembers early in her career when she parked her car in the “doctors only” lot. “The parking attendant chased me down to say, 'You can't park there,'” she says, explaining how people would often assume she was a nurse.

Troy used to work with four male doctors in a Lake Forest practice that was bought by a larger medical provider. Her patients often asked her about their diets, stress and other issues, and Troy says her new office will be able to address those concerns by following through on “the mind-gut connection.” She's the doctor, but her office also includes a nurse-practitioner, a dietitian, a behavioral therapist, two nurses, two clinical coordinators and an operations manager.

“I wanted to bring these things to the corner store,” Troy says. “I like to have that smaller, more intimate feel.”

Troy performs colonoscopies and endoscopies. Her holistic approach to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and weight management might include cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing and coping strategies.

Troy and her husband, Dr. Jon Powell, a pediatrician with practices in Buffalo Grove and Arlington Heights, have daughters Kyra, 13, and Taylor, 10. For now, Taylor is thinking of growing up to be a marine biologist, and Kyra is interested in wildlife photography.

Few kids pick a career at age 7 and stick with it.

“I've always been a very focused person. I've always been someone who makes a decision and moves forward,” Troy says. “I never doubted that I could become a physician. I wanted to create the job I wanted.”

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  The connection between "mind and gut" is so strong that gastroenterologist Dr. Tara Troy's new office features a dietitian and a therapist. Steve Lundy/
  Few women were physicians when Tara Troy was born, but the former Inverness resident made good on this childhood drawing of her becoming a doctor. A gastroenterologist, Troy says the connection between "mind and gut" is so strong that her office has a dietitian and a therapist. Steve Lundy/
  Opening a new medical practice that works with diet and behavior as well traditional gastroenterologist service, Dr. Tara Troy says her office will have "an intimate feel." Steve Lundy/
  In a hallway lined with witty messages, this sign adds humor to the new Northbrook offices of Dr. Tara Troy. Steve Lundy/
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