Helping people has always come naturally for Kelly Finan, MD, MSPH, FACS, FASCRS, colon and rectal surgeon at Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Colorectal Surgery, Baton Rouge Colon Rectal Associates, and Our Lady of the Lake Physician Group Colorectal Surgery at Covington.
Growing up in Ohio, Dr. Finan’s affinity for caring for others and love of science and math—and watching her mother’s career as a nurse—steered her toward medicine, but becoming a surgeon wasn’t necessarily on her radar when she entered medical school at the University of Cincinnati.
“I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what I would do,” Dr. Finan says. “As a woman going to medical school when I did, many people assumed I would go into primary care, but I loved surgery. It allowed me to tackle a problem and fix things.”
Dr. Finan completed an internship, general surgery residency and a year of clinical research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She discovered she liked complex abdominal surgery, which led her to complete a Fellowship in colorectal surgery at Barnes Jewish Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis.
Dr. Finan treats a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions, but her passion is treating colorectal cancer, which she says is overlooked compared with other forms of cancer.
“Colorectal cancer has a long lead time,” Dr. Finan says. “Cancer can develop from a polyp over the course of 10 years, but we can remove a polyp with a colonoscope before it becomes cancerous. There’s an ability to have a profound impact with this disease. We can save people’s lives if we can prevent it or detect it early.”
Robotic surgery, which Dr. Finan first encountered during residency, makes performing colorectal surgeries easier for the surgeon—controlling robotic arms from a console means no more contorting the body into awkward positions—and is less burdensome for patients. She says she embraced the da Vinci Surgical System in large part because of its ability to move to multiple quadrants of the abdomen. That’s key because colorectal surgery doesn’t always take place in one spot.
“The robot’s wristed instruments give me more ability to get into the pelvis and abdomen with smaller incisions and less disruption of tissue,” Dr. Finan says. “Less trauma to the abdominal wall is what translates most significantly to decreased postoperative pain because patients don’t have a lot of pain from removing the colon and rectum. It’s the trauma to the muscles and nerves of the abdominal wall that contributes most to postoperative pain. Without a big, open incision, patients experience less pain, less risk of infection or a hernia, less internal scar tissue, and a lower risk of future complications.”
Dr. Finan praises Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center for ensuring she and her colleagues have the leading-edge technology they need to provide top-notch care. She doesn’t take that support—or the relationships she has with her colleagues—for granted.
“We’re a big work family,” Dr. Finan says. “We’re always there for each other, helping out with surgery and taking care of each other’s patients when we’re on call. Not everyone has the luxury of such great partners.”
Life on the Move
A one-time cheerleader and track runner, Dr. Finan always seems to be on the move. She loves to exercise, and she combines her passions for running and colorectal cancer awareness by participating in the Colon Cancer Coalition’s annual Get Your Rear in Gear 5K run/walk in Baton Rouge. She also chaired the event during its first five years.
“My husband and I are prolific cooks, and we love entertaining,” Dr. Finan says. “We greatly enjoy traveling, and our two boys love outdoor activities. We love going to the mountains every summer and never miss Jazz Fest in New Orleans.”
Dr. Finan has a lot going on in her life, but she never loses sight of her long-held mission to help others.
“I’m extremely lucky to have such a rewarding career,” she says. “My goal is to help my patients improve their quality of life, no matter what they’re facing. It’s fulfilling to go on the journey with them and help along the way.”