Daughter joins father’s pulmonary medicine practice in Alabaster

ALABASTER – Tired of her father’s job interrupting family time, Margaret Connolly once tossed his hospital beeper—this was before the advent of cell phones—into a pool.

Now, Connolly has a deeper understanding of the importance of the medical field, as she joined her father, Michael G. Connolly Jr., as a physician assistant in February.

“I’ve always followed my dad to the office, even as a little kid,” Margaret Connolly said about her earliest memories of the profession.

Michael Connolly, 63, earned his degree from the Boston University School of Medicine and completed a residency and critical care fellowship at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

His Pulmonary Medicine Associates practice has always been affiliated with Shelby Baptist Medical Center. It has been located in three different buildings over the years, including its present home in the 1022 Tower, where it has been located since the building’s opening about 10 years ago.

Margaret Connolly grew up in Hoover and attended the University of Georgia for undergraduate studies. She graduated from UAB in December 2019 with her masters of science in physician assistant studies.

Before that, in high school, she had knee surgery and was introduced to the position of physician assistant.

Margaret Connolly said she was attracted to the position because physician assistants are trained on the medical model, with a problem-focused approach to medicine. They fill the space between the physician and the nursing staff, with autonomy to see patients on their own.

Most large practices have PA’s affiliated with them because they can help alleviate the burden on physicians.

The arrangement is especially beneficial now to the four partners of Pulmonary Medicine Associates because the workload has increased as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Pulmonary Medicine Associates provides critical care medicine, which requires a “tremendous amount of time,” Michael Connolly said.

“It’s difficult to meet the demands of both in-patient and out-patient,” he said.

Margaret Connolly said she is appreciative of the opportunity to learn.

“I appreciate the teaching because they want me to be the best PA I can be,” she said. “You can read about it, but until you’ve seen it to know how to manage illness, it’s difficult.”