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Hartselle Enquirer
Special to the Enquirer Dr. Grace Cain Williams shares a moment with her father, Morgan County Probate Judge Greg Cain.

Grace under pressure: Pediatrician deals with challenges to begin her career

By Bayne Hughes

For the Enquirer

At 9 years old, Grace Cain declared to her parents that she was going to be a doctor one day, and she knew what her specialty would be.

Now Dr. Grace Cain Williams helps heal children as a pediatrician.

Williams, 29, provides Hartselle with its only pediatric clinic – Decatur Morgan Hospital’s Hartselle Pediatric Clinic on Pine Street – and tends to newborns in the Decatur Morgan Hospital nursery.

“We all knew what Grace wanted to do,” her father, Greg Cain, said. “She even said she wanted to be a pediatrician. At an early age, we could see her determination, and it was pretty cool to watch her.”

Cain, Morgan County’s probate judge, and his wife Cindy are the parents of not only a practicing physician but also another daughter who is a future doctor. Williams was followed to UAB Medical School by her younger sister, Hope Cain, who is a second-year med student.

Her father warned Williams would take hard work and good grades, plus money, to reach her goal. The combination of a scholarship and her parents’ support paid for undergraduate school at the University of Alabama–Birmingham.

Williams met her future husband, Andrew, in Irish and English Literature class, and they married before finishing college in 2016. She stayed at UAB for medical school and did her residency in Greenville, South Carolina, always focused on her goal to be a children’s doctor.

“My goal was always pediatrician, from the start,” Williams said. “There was a brief time I considered emergency medicine, but I missed the kids.”

In an added layer of difficulty, the couple found out they were expecting twins in the middle of her third year of residency, and while she was pregnant, the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

“I wasn’t allowed to see any coronavirus patients at the very beginning because we weren’t sure what we were dealing with in the virus,” Williams said. “Nowadays it’s not as big a deal, if we wear the right personal protective equipment.”

Williams said the pandemic squashed one of her favorite parts of being a pediatrician: Having young patients wearing masks “covers their smiling faces.”

The pandemic has been a challenge, she said, and pediatricians had to take a viral swab at its outset to even diagnose COVID-19.

“It’s difficult to tell the difference between the coronavirus and other viral sicknesses like RSV,” Williams explained.

Four days a week, Williams works at the Hartselle clinic, while her husband is a stay-at-home dad right now. He’s a physical therapy assistant who plans to start his career when their twin boys are 2, she said.

She works in the hospital’s nursery unit one day a week and one weekend a month. Usually, she examines babies who were born during the night.

Williams said she’s “very happy” with the start of her career and new family. “I feel like it’s my calling, and I’m so happy to be home where they didn’t

have the resources (in Hartselle until starting the pediatric clinic),” Williams said.

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