AshworthPeds 275x275Growing up, Carolyn Ashworth, M.D., noticed that sick children needed an advocate. Despite having no family members who practiced medicine, Ashworth decided the best way to accomplish her childhood calling was to pursue pediatric medicine.

“Children needed someone to speak for them and someone to focus on their health,” Ashworth says.

After 25 years at UAB, Ashworth retired in 2017. However, she still focuses on children and their health by giving back to areas in the UAB Department of Pediatrics. She pledged a legacy gift to three subspecialties: general academic pediatrics, developmental and behavioral pediatrics, and adolescent medicine.

Anyone can make a legacy gift to UAB by pledging a portion or all of their estate, life insurance policy, or retirement payout to the area or areas they value. Ashworth says it was critical to her that she give to those three subspecialties because they are primed for opportunity.

“I became director of the Division of General Pediatrics in 1995, and pediatric medicine has changed so much since then. There is more knowledge and more information specific to children and adolescents, and to their behavior and development,” she says. “These areas, along with training the next generation of doctors in pediatric medicine, are very important to me. They have so much potential to improve the overall health of children.”

Ashworth notes that clinicians and researchers are learning more about behavior and development than when she was a resident. More is known today, for example, about how children’s brains respond to different stressors. However, there are still gaps in understanding how to build resilience, Ashworth adds.

CarolynAshworth“There are things that we didn’t know or weren’t around when I was training—like teenagers dealing with social media and technology—which are part of the challenge of medicine today,” she explains. “There is a lot of work to do with its fair share of challenges and changes. Hopefully my gift will be a little bit of help.”

She joined the UAB Department of Pediatrics in 1991 after earning her medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta in 1981, completing a three-year pediatric residency at the Medical College of Georgia, and spending two years at Duke University Medical Center as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship in Academic General Pediatrics.

In 1995, she became the director of the five-member Division of General Pediatrics. Later that year, it merged with the four-member Division of Adolescent Medicine to form the Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Faculty members supervised medical students and residents in providing care in a variety of settings: the UAB Newborn Nursery; Children’s General Inpatient Pediatric Service; residents’ continuity clinics; juvenile detention facilities; and subspecialty clinics such as an Adolescent Clinic, Medical Autism Clinic, and the follow-up clinic for prematurely born infants. The faculty grew in number to reflect the scope of knowledge about child development, preventive care, and adolescent health needs. Upon Ashworth’s retirement, the groups became three distinct divisions reflecting the unique health care needs of the children and youth they served.

One of the most rewarding parts of Ashworth’s career involved training medical students, residents, and fellows. She says she felt a sense of pride when a trainee helped a patient by combining what they learned from their academic work and clinical experience. “It’s like watching a spark flare up into a campfire,” Ashworth says. “As they grow in experience, they can make that right decision for the patient. It’s fun to watch.”

Now that she has pledged a legacy gift to three subspecialties close to her heart, she encourages other faculty and staff to give back to the School of Medicine. “I’m very grateful for people who donated money when I was a resident,” she says. “If it is important to you, then you want to support it with your time, energy, and money.”

By Emily Henagan

To give to pediatrics at UAB, contact Andrea Martin at To give to pediatrics at UAB, contact Andrea Martin at (205) 934-9303 or amartin@peds.uab.edu. To make a planned gift, contact Kimberley Coppock at (205) 975-5970 or kcoppock@uab.edu.