Kelly Spaulding, who worked tirelessly to make our residents and fellows feel at home and serve our faculty, retired this March after more than 30 years with the Department of Anesthesiology.
Kelly’s unparalleled event-planning skills, knowledge, and good cheer have been vital to the successful operations of the Anesthesiology Education Office and the department. Among her many lasting contributions as program assistant in the Anesthesiology Education Office, Kelly played a key role in planning the department’s annual graduation, which typically draws more than 100 people.
Kelly is well-known for her small acts of service to help the department’s trainees, such as baking homemade chocolate chip cookies for our interns during Intern Education Month. She was always there to lend an ear or organize a catered lunch, coordinating events large and small.
“Kelly has always known and cared very deeply for each of the anesthesiology residents who have come to UF to train,” said Tim Martin, M.D., M.B.A., professor of anesthesiology, associate chair for education, and chief of the Division of Pediatric Anesthesia. “She has always had a smile and a reassuring word, and she has been of tremendous help during crunch time when work must be done. I don’t know what we’ll do without Kelly, but I am so very happy for this next phase of ‘retirement’ and hope she is able to relish and enjoy all she has done to support and help residents and faculty alike on their journey.”
Kelly has been the face of hospitality in the Anesthesiology Education Office, said Ricky McHugh, residency/fellowship coordinator II.
“No one does it better,” Ricky said. “She greets everyone with a smile and a hug and makes them feel at home. She will be missed.”
Kelly said she felt that she was set up to succeed in each of the roles she held in the department throughout her career. In August, she was honored for reaching 30 years of service to UF in 2020 and received a plaque from UF President Kent Fuchs.
“While I’ve served five chairs and four program directors, really not much has changed,” Kelly said. “The heart of the department has remained true, familial, and strong.”
Kelly was originally hired as the secretary for the fledgling Human Patient Simulator project, serving J.S. Gravenstein, M.D., Mike Good, M.D., and Tammy Euliano, M.D. But she was much than a secretary.
“I was the press agent, caterer, hostess, travel agent, editor, mover (eight different locations), and keeper of the brilliant team of simulator engineers,” she said. “Watching the simulator grow from an intubation head, a test lung, some fake skin over it, and two arms on a table to a full-scale human patient simulator with the revenue of worldwide sales landing it just below Gatorade on the UF revenue chart has made us so proud.”
The simulator exhibitions provided the opportunity to travel widely, taking her to Sydney, Paris, the Netherlands, and all over the United States. “I would never have done that on my own without my team around me,” Kelly said.
In 2008, F. Kayser Enneking, M.D., professor of anesthesiology and orthopaedics who was then the chair of the department, approached Kelly and asked her to be the resident recruiter.
“I replied, ‘I don’t know what that is, and I don’t want to leave the simulator,’” Kelly recalled. “To which she replied, ‘Thank you, Kelly. I know you’ll do a wonderful job.’ Little did I know that position change would change my life.”
As part of the recruitment team, Kelly had the opportunity to meet thousands of medical students interviewing to become part of the department.
“Of those thousands, only a few would end up being residents and also the true loves of my life,” Kelly said. “My heart has been filled up to the brim ever since my first recruitment year. I can’t thank Dr. Enneking enough. I now get to watch all of my ‘kids’ succeed and grow into competent consulting anesthesiologists who practice all over the United States. They all make us so proud.”
Kelly has played an important role in the department’s history and foundation, said Tammy Bleeker, M.Ed., C-TAGME, assistant director of education administration.
“Kelly has had a substantial and lasting impact on the many learners who have come through our doors,” Tammy said.
Kelly said she is most grateful for the love and care she received over the years during some of the most devastating times of her life.
“The department has carried me though all of it,” she said. “I have made so many true friends over the years that I will continue to cherish. I will dearly miss all of you.”
Kelly plans to start her retirement by working part time for her financial planner down her street. Then, “go for a walk, say a little prayer, take a deep breath of Gainesville air, catch up on all the things I’ve always missed, just start living, that’s the next thing on my list,” she said, paraphrasing Toby Keith.
We are enormously grateful for all of Kelly’s many lasting contributions to our department. Please join us in wishing her the very best in retirement!