Inspired as a young girl, Suncoast pediatrician now works beside her inspiration

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BRADENTON - Our community is full of unsung heroes. They may have never saved someone from a burning building, but the positive changes they've inspired in others make them extraordinary. Like the Manatee County doctor who took the time to mentor a child, and the amazing story that followed.

They do special work at Manatee Pediatrics, seeing patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Pediatrician Dr. Chelsea Tehan is beloved by her patients. "She's wonderful. She's very thorough, she's kind, she always knows exactly what's wrong with the baby…she's great," says Erin Deans.

Dr. Tehan practices at Manatee Pediatrics alongside her mentor, Dr. George Van Buren. The two met when Chelsea was just 6 years old. "When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time at the local county hospital, Manatee Memorial Hospital, with my aunt, who was a nurse there at the time. And I happened to meet and latch on with Dr. George Van Buren, who allowed me to follow him around the hospital pediatric floor pretending to be a doctor with him."

Over his 25 years as a pediatrician, Dr. Van Buren has encouraged a lot of kids. But young Chelsea really stood out. "She would hang out with me as I was going from room to room seeing patients. I would let her follow me around and get a feel for what I was doing. As she got older we stayed in touch."

When Chelsea applied to med school, she had to write an essay to get in. "Mine was about Dr. Van Buren, because he started it all….about the following him around in the hospital, and learning from him what it means to be a doctor – maybe not the heart sounds, the lung sounds, but the love, the caring, the support of the children and the families."

After graduation she returned to Manatee County to practice, and was thrilled with the opportunity to work side-by-side with the doctor who started her on her career. "It’s also been nice to watch him throughout the years show his love for his patient population and his willingness to give 110% of his love and care to these patients."

It's also very rewarding for Dr. Van Buren. "You try to do a good thing by encouraging young people. You never know the influence you might have on someone by a kind word or gesture or a little bit of time."

And Chelsea says she now tries to mentor other young people as Dr. Van Buren mentored her.