Monday profile: Morris finds calling to medicine, Mississippi

 

Dr. Andrea Morris, a pediatrician at Columbus Children's Clinic, is also a skilled violinist, although she rarely has the opportunity to perform these days. She has been playing violin since she was 6 and helps her son, Alex, 13, with his violin lessons.

Dr. Andrea Morris, a pediatrician at Columbus Children's Clinic, is also a skilled violinist, although she rarely has the opportunity to perform these days. She has been playing violin since she was 6 and helps her son, Alex, 13, with his violin lessons. Photo by: Chris Jenkins/Special to The Dispatch

 

Slim Smith

 

 

Dr. Andrea Morris has been playing the violin for most of her life, but with a busy workload of patients and two kids to attend to at home, she finds it hard to find the time to play. 

 

"Mostly, it's just helping my son with his lessons or playing for the baby -- he likes that," said Morris, a pediatrician at Baptist Memorial Group's Columbus Children's Clinic. "I just don't have the time." 

 

That seems to be Morris' only complaint these days. 

 

Since moving to Columbus after finishing her residency at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Morris has seen her life evolve in ways she didn't expect. 

 

She arrived as a single mom of one. Now, she's remarried and is the mom of two - 13-year-old Alex and 17-month-old Luke. 

 

"My life has changed in ways I could never have imagined," Morris said. "Columbus really feels like home." 

 

Her arrival in Columbus is the culmination of a long journey -- one that began even before she was born when her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica. 

 

"They came here for the opportunity to have an education," said Morris, whose parents settled initially in the Bronx, where she was born. Her dad became and engineer, her mother an educator. 

 

And for Morris, education and opportunity became a family theme. 

 

"Education was always the most important thing, but my parents also wanted me to appreciate all the opportunities that were available," she said. 

 

One of those opportunities was learning to play music. 

 

"I began taking lessons when I was 6," she said. "My older brother had taken lessons, but lost interest. But for me, it was something I loved." 

 

She became so accomplished, in fact, that she played at private parties and receptions to earn extra money as she continued her education. 

 

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Morris worked for three years as a pharmaceutical chemist, before feeling the old call toward medicine -- in particular, pediatrics. 

 

"I think I must have always wanted to be a pediatrician," she said. "My mom found a paper I had written in school when I was in eighth grade, and in the paper I had written I wanted to be a doctor that works with children," she said. "I didn't even remember that, but I think that desire was always there." 

 

Morris went to medical school in the Grand Caymans and, later, in Atlanta. 

 

When she moved to Mississippi for her residency, she'll admit she had her misgivings. 

 

"I was scared," Morris said. "All I know about Mississippi was what I had heard about it and none of it was good." 

 

To her surprise, she found her experience at UMMC rewarding. Mississippi wasn't the terrifying place she had imagined. 

 

"I really do feel at home here," she said. "The people are friendly. I really enjoy my work. It's home to me now." 

 

Lisa Britton, the office manager at Columbus Children's Clinic, said Morris has fit in perfectly. 

 

"The parents like her, the patients like her," Britton said. "She's friendly, easy-going. She's easy to work with." 

 

It's turned out so well, in fact, that Morris' parents have moved to Columbus. 

 

"They decided to move here about a year ago when they retired," she said. "They help with the baby, which is great for me. But I think they really like Columbus, too. It's all worked out really well."

 

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

 

 

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