The Children's Institute Blog

Doctor Spotlight: Mary Louise Russell, MD

Posted: Jul 07, 2017 by The Children's Institute


We launched our new "Doctor Spotlight" series by featuring Dr. Scott Faber, Director of Developmental Pediatrics at The Children's Institute. Today, we're excited to put the spotlight on another amazing staff member - Dr. Mary Louise Russell, Pediatric Rehabilitation Physician. Check out the Q&A!

Dr. Mary Louise Russell - HeadshotQ: When did you start working at The Children's Institute?
A: Actually, I have worked two "stints" at The Institute. The first was from 1989-2001; I worked half time at The Institute and half time at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. My second "stint" began in 2012; I now work only at The Institute.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Beaver Falls, PA

Q: As a child, what did you want to be?
A: An art teacher.


Q: Where did you go to school?
A: Undergraduate was Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA. My college was closer to my house than my grade school had been! My dad was dean at Geneva College; I could go there without paying tuition. I also could not get a date in college because of my dad. Medical school was Medical College of Pennsylvania (now affiliated with Drexel University) in Philadelphia.

Q: What inspired you to go into your field of study?
A: In college, I volunteered at the D. T. Watson Home for Children in Leetsdale, PA. I encountered children with cerebral palsy and spina bifida. We all had a great time together! When I was in medical school, I spent two summers with the rehabilitation physician at Watson - Dr. Michael Alexander. He encouraged me to go into pediatric rehabilitation medicine.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: What I like most is observing patients having therapies. By doing so, I can appreciate how hard both the patients and therapists are working. I also like sneaking in some play with the kids!

Q: What do you like most about living in Pittsburgh?
A: I like all the different neighborhoods, with their distinctive characteristics. I like visiting places of worship; there is a variety to enjoy here in Pittsburgh.

Q: Do you have any pets?
A: I have no live pets. I have many stuffed animals, for some of whom I fabricate an extensive imaginary "life" - school, significant others, children, etc.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I actually have a second career. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. I go to group homes for mentally and physically-challenged adults, conducting services for the residents. By visiting the group homes, I can make drawings to illustrate lessons or perform dramatizations. My major hobby is gardening. I have no lawn to speak of at my home, just garden beds. I grow flowers. I am a dahlia diva!

Q: What is your favorite sports team?
A: My favorite sports team is the San Antonio Spurs. I am a basketball fan; Pittsburgh does not have a professional basketball team. I have to declare a new favorite professional basketball player now that Tim Duncan has retired.

Q: Who is your favorite musician?
A: My favorites are Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Unfortunately, Kate has died. My favorite song of theirs is "The Swimming Song."

Q: With what superhero do you identify?
A: I identify with Wonder Woman, although I would never wear the outfit she does!

Q: Do you have any superpowers?
A: I score at the 95% level on visual/perception tests; at least that is what some occupational therapists at Children's Hospital told me!

Q: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you bring?
A: I would bring a stack of blank paper, a box of 64 Crayola crayons, and a very thick novel. I hate to be bored!

Q: If you were given a $1 million check to give to one group or charity other than The Children's Institute, who would get it?
A: My check would go to Allegheny Valley School (AVS). I visit group homes run by AVS.

Q: What has been your strangest job?
A: Babysitting could be pretty strange sometimes!

Q: What do you want to do when you retire?
A: I want to draw, garden, travel, and continue to visit the group homes for services. I will hire somebody to clean out my house.


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