Most people will tell you that the key to success is setting a goal and working every day toward it. Most people, however, get diverted or change goals before ever achieving their original aim.

Not Dr. Kristi Sutton. An internal medicine doctor for CHI St. Vincent Primary Care – Hot Springs Village – Ponce deLeon, Dr. Sutton sets her heart, mind and intent on achieving what fulfills her life.

Q:  Are you originally from Hot Springs Village?

A:  No, I’m from North Little Rock. I live in Benton now and commute to Hot Springs Village each weekday. It’s about 40 minutes each way, but I get a lot done in that time. I’ve been practicing in Hot Springs Village for about six and a half years now, and I’ve been at the clinic for a year and a half.

Q: Did you always want to be a doctor? How did you decide to take this career path?

A:  I knew I wanted to be a doctor from the time I was really young. Very early on in my life, I knew that’s what I wanted to be. The first time I can remember thinking I would be a doctor was in the eighth grade. As I got older, I enjoyed biology and physiology, and I always found a challenge in those subjects so it held my attention and focus. I have always liked people, too, so being able to combine all the things I liked into a career was a fortunate situation.

Q: Do you come from a family of doctors?

A:  No, in fact, I am the first in my family to become a doctor. When I told them I was going to medical school and would be a physician, they weren’t surprised at all. I went to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville for my undergraduate degree then UAMS for medical school and residency.

Q: Was your path to the career you have now a straight line, or was it more unconventional?

A:  Oh, it wasn’t straight at all. In fact, I went to medical school when I was 31. Being a doctor was always what I wanted to be, and even at the time I entered medical school, I knew it was what I had to do. When I decided to go, I was fretting a little about my age and how old I’d be when I was finished. My mother told me, “You’re going to be 39 regardless. You might as well be 39 and a doctor.” That made a lot of sense to me, and I knew I had to keep working toward my dream, which was to be a physician. Now, the most fun thing for me is when I see a patient get better and feel better. I know we accomplished that together.

Q:  How has staying focused on your goals affected your life overall?

A:  It’s served me well to keep my dreams as my focus. I’m busier now than I have ever been in my life. I don’t meet myself coming and going – I miss myself. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always wanted a family, and today I have three girls – one and a half, two and a half and eight years old. I’m 45 so we didn’t start our family until I was 37, but I never gave up. If I could give advice to anyone, it would be don’t ever give up on anything you want to do. Just keep trying. I did, and I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life.

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