Restless Leg Syndrome01:00 AM Thu April 27, 2023
The people behind LIG Global strive to implement their medical and global health interests into the efforts of the organization, in order to most comprehensively provide quality care at the various locations we serve. Dr. Debbra Keegan, the Director of Development who serves on LIG Global’s advisory board sat down and discussed her story, passions, and experiences, ranging from her family and personal life to professional life and more. Dr. Keegan reveals how her experiences with LIG Global are a perfect culmination of her interests and devotion as a physician, woman, mother, and more.
Born and raised in New York, Dr. Keegan began her educational path to becoming a physician by receiving her undergraduate degree from Cornell University, followed by a master’s degree and doctorate of medicine from NYU and NYU Langone, respectively. These 10 years of schooling were followed by her 4 year residency specializing in obstetrics/gynecology and a 3 year fellowship; needless to say, Dr. Keegan has devoted an extensive amount of time to truly learning about various aspects of medicine! Her years of training and experience have led her to an incredibly successful career as a board certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, specializing in family planning for various family situations, such as working with single parents, same-sex partners, individuals with endocrine disorders associated with reproduction, and cancer patients. Given that reproductive endocrinology is a rather niche field, Dr. Keegan explained that she found herself drawn to it as it combined two of her major professional interests: serving women and the complexities and intricacies involved with the physiology of having children. Dr. Keegan explained that the various women in her life inspired her through their strength, resiliency, and wide-range of abilities, leading her to pursue a career where she could best serve these women (and many more) who had left such a strong impact on her; this drew her initially to the field of obstetrics and gynecology. However, Dr. Keegan described her passion for the sciences and being able to understand the physiology that is associated with having children, and more specifically, the many complexities and possible “obstacles” to childbearing. She found that reproductive endocrinology would allow her to not only help care for women, but more specifically, work with women in complex fertility situations. Understanding the sensitivity of the situation of family planning, Dr. Keegan emphasizes a patient-centric and staff-centric approach in her clinic. In her interview, Dr. Keegan explained her logic for this approach in her practice, stating, “People that are happy doing what they do will better facilitate situations when conditions are not exactly what the individual may be wanting.” This structure in her practice has allowed her staff to not only enjoy their work but also ensure that patients are receiving the highest quality care and ensuring that they are fully informed throughout every step of the process, ultimately fostering strong patient-physician bonds.
In discussing her experiences as a physician, Dr. Keegan truly highlighted her excitement and love for her work. She explained how rewarding it is to play such an intimate role in building families, stating “it’s really when they come back with their kids or send pictures of them that is the most rewarding part of my work.” Receiving letters and images from the families, telling her that she has been able to create a legacy in their family makes every moment in the clinic worthwhile. Of course, there are difficulties within the field, such as when the fertility efforts are not successful, but Dr. Keegan finds these difficulties to be further motivation to help individuals reach their goals of building a family.
Outside of being a physician, Dr. Keegan is a wife to Tommy Nichols (who also works with LIG Global as a dedicated volunteer) and mother of 2 girls and 1 boy. She loves to spend her time doing whatever her kids are involved in, whether she is with her youngest daughter, a dancer, her middle daughter, a field hockey player, or her son, who is an avid sports fan. Additionally, she enjoys playing music, and is able to play piano and drums, which she learned from her husband! She is committed to a holistically healthy lifestyle, and tries to incorporate many of these personal values and practices into her work as a physician. Lastly, she loves to travel, and found this to be one of the plethora of reasons she was drawn to LIG Global.
In 2014, Dr. Ernani Sadural, one of the co-founders of LIG Global approached Dr. Keegan while the two were working at St. Barnabas together, and introduced her to LIG Global and its mission. She found that many of her values and interests aligned with LIG Global, allowing her to provide patient-centered care and utilize her surgical OB/GYN skills, which she does not get to utilize as frequently in her work as a reproductive endocrinologist to underserved communities across the globe. The first medical mission that Dr. Sadural invited her on was a trip to the Philippines, which she saw as a sign from her family:
Dr. Keegan’s mother and maternal grandfather are both Filipino; for many years, she had been yearning to travel to the Philippines with her family. However, the passing of her maternal grandfather prevented this family trip from happening. When Dr. Sadural approached Dr. Keegan with this opportunity to travel to the Philippines, and specifically stop in the hometown of her grandfather, she saw this as a sign from him to go. Her mother, a nurse practitioner, was also able to travel with LIG Global on this trip, allowing her to, in her own words, “close the loop of all things that brought me to medicine to begin with.”
Since the first trip with LIG Global, Dr. Keegan has been on a variety of trips with the organization ranging from the Dominican Republic to Peru to the BlackFoot Nation in Montana. Dr. Keegan was also able to take on a larger role within the organization as the Director of Development, after planning the organization’s first fundraising event. Using her outgoing and warm demeanor, Dr. Keegan has played a vital role in networking and fundraising for LIG Global, spreading awareness of the organization and its efforts to countless individuals.
Dr. Keegan has left an incredible impact on innumerable patients, colleagues, families, and more through her work as a reproductive endocrinologist, the director of development for LIG Global, a mother, wife, woman and more! Her strong passion for serving others in a personal and authentic manner has enabled her to achieve a commendable amount of success throughout her life.