We all have that little voice in the back of our head that we often choose to ignore. Lolly Eldridge, MD, certainly tried to do just that when it came to choosing a career. The Union City native felt she was being called to medicine but since the sight of blood caused her to faint, she thought maybe that little voice was wrong. Fortunately, Eldridge decided to heed the Lord's call on her life, step out in faith and trust God.
Coming from a long line of educators, Eldridge felt teaching would be the best route for her to pursue her love of science. As a biology major at Union University, she realized in her junior year the classroom was not the place for her. "I had done some observing in classes and just knew it wasn't for me," said Eldridge. "I felt the Lord speaking to me to go to medical school. While the sight of blood really affected me, I had to trust that if medicine is where the Lord wanted me, He would see me through it."
Deciding to pursue medicine meant Eldridge would graduate on time with a degree in biology, but would not proceed right into medical school. "While I was finishing up my undergraduate studies, I volunteered in the ER to make sure medicine was the right fit, especially with my blood issue," said Eldridge. "Amazingly it was no longer an issue. After graduation, I took a year off to take some classes and worked in healthcare just to pursue my interest in medicine. In addition to the ER back in my home town, I worked at the UT Family Practice program in Jackson. It was a great experience to be exposed to academic medicine and confirmed I was headed in the right direction."
In 2000, Eldridge started medical school in Memphis at UT Health Sciences Center. During her OB/GYN rotation, she knew she had found her specialty. "I fell in love with it," she said. "It just spoke to me and seemed so fulfilling. Taking care of women and being there to witness the miracle of new life was so exciting. I think it's a specialty that you either love or don't and I loved it. The surgical side of the specialty also was very attractive to me."
As she finished medical school in 2004, Eldridge had another major milestone in life - she got married. While completing her residency through UT in Memphis, Eldridge welcomed daughter Madeline. "She was born in October of my last year of residency," she said. "And I quickly learned why they say it takes a village to raise a child. It was hard to try to work and have family time but thanks to my husband, Stephen, and our parents we got through it."
In 2008, Eldridge completed her residency and joined the Jackson Clinic. "Stephen is from Jackson, so we knew we were going to come back to this area," said Eldridge. "And the clinic was a good fit for me. The partners are like-minded and I just felt like it would be a good home and a good place to work."
While Eldridge hasn't quite completed her first decade in practice, she has seen changes in both obstetrics and gynecology from what she learned in her medical training. On the gynecological side, robotic surgery, which allows for minimally invasive procedures was not a part of her residency training. While in private practice, however, she has earned her certification to perform robotic surgeries. "Now it the predominant choice for surgeries, especially hysterectomies," she said. "There is less scarring and less downtime for the patient. It has been neat to see that come into practice."
Regarding obstetrics, Eldridge says there has been a shift over the past year in the care of patients in labor.
"As a Board-Certified OB/GYN, I look to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for guidelines. In an article published jointly by ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, new guidelines say doctors should give otherwise healthy women more time to deliver their babies vaginally before assuming labor has stalled," she said. "It validates a lot that is being done already and there is evidence that less intervention in labor can be a good thing. It is sort of a new approach for many of us because it is different than how we were trained. There is also more focus on the patient experience and empowering the patient in the decision-making process than there has been in the past."
Aside from her busy practice, Eldridge is a devoted wife and mother to her two daughters, Madeline, who is nine, and Emily, who is six. Free time is something she says she is not accustomed to. "I am definitely a busy mom but strive to make my family a priority. I take as much time as I can to be with them," said Eldridge. "We love spending time on the Tennessee River. The girls are just getting into sports so time at the ballpark is a new experience for us."