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The FAMILY DOCTOR



Dr. Paula Crawford-Harris

Dr. Paula Crawford-Harris sees patient after patient, five days a week, at her St. Lucie West office before she heads home to her family. Originally from Brevard County, she is impressed with how Port St. Lucie has grown over the past 20 years. GREG GARDNER PHOTO

BY GREG GARDNER

There are only so many hours in the day, but Dr. Paula Crawford-Harris has found that delicate balance between running a family practice and raising her blended family of five children.

“I am hypervigilant about my schedule and I get through my day and get home to my family,” says Crawford-Harris, who sees 20 patients a day at her office in St. Lucie West. “I set a good pace and structure at my office so I am not taking work home. You have to give back something to your family when you get home.”

After her 35-minute trek from her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Crawford-Harris sees one patient after another, sometimes with a quick salad at her desk for nourishment. At the end of her day, she returns to pick up her toddlers and begin the second half of her family practice. “They have to have a bath and dinner before bed,” she says. “I usually have about an hour of downtime before I go to sleep and wake up again at six a.m. It is a continuous cycle, but you have to make sure your career and life at home have an equal balance. I have learned a lot about time management. Taking care of children prepares you to manage the work at the office. You have to set your own timetable.”

Husband Omar owns a trucking and towing company. His two sons from a previous marriage are in college and his 16-year-old son, Rahmai, assists mom with the couple’s little ones. “He runs track after school, but he helps out a lot,” the doctor says.

“My patients are the best part of my job,” she says. “A lot of my patients are not young and you have to give them time to address their needs. I want them to get their annual physicals, get mammograms, and X-rays and preventative care as well. Moms and dads dote on their kids. Patients come with stories and you hear about their lives. Older people have stories and it is always nice to hear about their military service. I love my patients.”

That same devotion is always there when Crawford-Harris walks into her home and hits the ground running with her other family.

PAULA CRAWFORD-HARRIS

Age: 36
Occupation: Family practice physician
Lives in: Palm Beach Gardens
Family: Husband, Omar; sons, Shamar, 21, Christopher, 18, Rahmai, 16, William, 3; daughter, Omarah, 2
Education: University of Florida, undergraduate; St. Mathews School of Medicine, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; residency at Newport News Riverside Regional Medical Center, Virginia
Hobbies: “I love traveling and spending time with my family. I just came back from Italy, and we are going to Jamaica where my husband and father are from. I also enjoy spending time with my family. Both my two- and three-year-olds are in a soccer program and will be taking swim classes.”
What inspires me: “My mother’s compassion, my father’s strong will, my husband’s determination and my children’s unfulfilled desire to learn, grow and explore the world around them.”
What most people don’t know about me: “I used to ride a 1,000-cc Suzuki motorcycle until a friend totaled it and was badly injured. I realized that a motorcycle was not a safe place for me. He came into the hospital (after the accident) while I was working as a nurse’s aide. It made me want to continue down the path I was already on.”