Dr. Sheree Estes, a 2001 Forest graduate, was recently named Physician of the Year by the Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. Estes is a neuropsychologist for the acute care facility, and has been since 2002.
"I was totally surprised because I'm the first non medical doctor to be honored as physician of the year in the history of the hospital," said Estes. "I was pretty humbled by that."
Estes, who typically works with patients with traumatic brain injuries or neurological disorders, says what makes her job interesting is that each day brings a new challenge.
"Every family I see is unique because every family and every patient that comes through the door has their own dynamic history," said Estes. "There's no cookie cutter way to work with them. So, you are constantly educating yourself about the family so you can help them adjust to the changes not only occurring at that moment, but those that are likely to occur down the road."
Aside from her work at Fairlawn, Dr. Estes also does consulting for the University of Massachusetts Hospital System, the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, and assists with disability evaluations for the state of Massachusetts. In February, she also joined the medical team for the Stars professional hockey team.
"In my work with the hockey team I have to be ready on the fly and even see patients on Sundays," said Estes. "When a patient gets hurt they need to be seen fairly quickly to determine whether they can return to the ice."
So, it may come as no surprise that Dr. Estes says her typical day starts around 4:30 each morning when she gets up to dictate before going into the office.
Estes graduated from Forest in 2001 and said she is grateful for the chance to start a second life through Forest's program. Before starting Forest, she worked in the banking business, but as a single mother started the program and changed her destiny.
"Forest gave me the opportunity to go back to school, get a doctorate, and have a second career. It also gave me a foundation to eventually become a respected clinician," said Dr. Estes.
She now resides in Marlboro, Massachussetts and is building a second home in Jamaica. In her spare time she volunteers at an elementary school and a children's health clinic in Jamaica. Her travels there also led her to meet her late husband. Dr. Estes has a daughter who resides in Springfield, Missouri and teaches at Ozarks Technical Community College.