Mindfulness and Medicine

Dr. Peggy Sheehan

The dream of becoming a doctor is an obvious choice from childhood for some and an interest discovered later along life’s journey for others.

So how did Dr. Peggy Sheehan, pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente’s Castle Rock Medical Offices, end up at Colorado Permanente Medical Group (CPMG)? By being tuned into what felt right for her and consciously soaking up the insights of wonderful mentors.

“I went to a small liberal arts college and was a biology major because that is what I enjoyed. In so many ways my life has been shaped by seizing opportunities and listening to the people who have encouraged me. I felt the opportunity for me to go to medical school, and I couldn’t have picked a better thing for myself,” says Dr. Sheehan.

She earned her medical degree at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

“I was doing my rotations and I thought pediatrics would be the last thing I would be interested in. But it turns out, it really reflected my idea of what being a doctor would be like. We are very careful and considerate of children when it comes to tests and procedures. We take the whole family situation into account and it’s nice to partner with the parents.”

Dr. Sheehan was inspired by the pediatricians she met, but still had reservations that her introverted nature may not be the right fit for young, high-energy patients. 

“I was a bit concerned that pediatricians were expected to be entertainers. It turns out that kids didn’t really care about that. They cared that you were honest and listened to them and saw them for who they were. That suited me.”

She worked in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital Colorado for two years and then joined a private practice for almost 10 years. Finally, she found her way to CPMG.

“I worked in the float pool to begin and I was able to experience many of the Kaiser Permanente Colorado medical offices. I gravitated toward the smaller clinics because I appreciated the strong sense of community,” adds Dr. Sheehan.

Since 1991, Dr. Sheehan has practiced meditation in the Zen tradition. It increasingly played an important role in her life and in her approach to medical practice. In 2005, Dr. Sheehan embarked on formal mindfulness training at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The evidence-based program focused on the benefits of meditation practices on health and well-being.

“Living mindfully is tremendously powerful. We can begin to navigate the full spectrum of our lives as human beings with more grace, equanimity, balance and joy even in the hard times.”

Dr. Sheehan was empowered to meld her loves of medicine and mindfulness into her career at CPMG, and to share her expertise with Kaiser Permanente members, her colleagues and others in the community.

“I teach a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class through Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Complementary Medicine. Typically 20-25 adults participate in each eight-week session. It’s enlightening to watch people heal and change and enjoy themselves despite the challenges in their lives.”

She was recently called upon to share mindfulness techniques with CPMG’s administrative team members. Her more in-depth class, which involves a two-hour commitment each week, is also open to CPMG and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado employees.

“I’m so grateful that people at this company are allowed to be a doctor but also to offer whatever their other skills or gifts are. I’ve found it incredibly fulfilling.”

To learn more about Dr. Sheehan’s practice at the Castle Rock Medical Offices, read part two of her story.

To learn more about working for CPMG, click here