Like Mother, Like Daughter

Doctors Wonski and Monks

Mother-Daughter Physician Duo Talk Medicine and Motherhood

Born into a family of teachers, Dr. Catherine Wonski, MD, was on course to become an educator. But it wasn’t until her college years that her real destiny became clear: her subject matter would be family medicine and her pupils her patients.  

“I worked in a hospital in college and was very impacted by physicians that I rotated with," says Dr. Wonski, Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital Chief of Staff and hospitalist. “They were incredibly involved in their communities and did a lot of teaching.” 

After finishing her MD in family medicine followed by her residency in 1990, Wonski practiced in Grand Rapids for several years before pursuing a position in Northern Michigan, where she partially grew up during the summer months.  

“I had always loved Boyne City, so I approached Charlevoix Hospital about opening a primary care practice in Boyne City with Dr. Pam Knysz. Hard to believe that was 27 years ago!” she shares. “I loved taking care of families in a small community. Family medicine also provided me the ability to balance raising my family along with my job in this same community.” 

Caitlin Monks and Catherine WonskiLittle did Wonski know that at that same time she was helping to support a growing practice, a budding physician was in the making. A young girl who followed in her footsteps, quite literally, around the clinic and hospital. Observing Wonski touch and heal lives as she moved from room to room.   

The young girl was her daughter.  

“My kids grew up coming to the Boyne office during the week and rounding with me on the weekends at Charlevoix Hospital. Most of the physicians had kids tagging along at times and the nurses were great at spoiling them all with treats while we rounded on patients,” says Wonski.

One of Wonski’s three children, Caitlyn, experienced a different delight. Watching her mother pour her heart and soul into caring for others. Both on and off the clock.

“I have countless memories at the office and hospital with my mom, but what I remember the most is how she cared for her community,” says Caitlyn Monks, DO, an OBGYN with Munson’s Charlevoix Women’s Health.

“I remember her running to the office after hours to help community members, stitching up teammates of mine after games, and making house calls in the area. Her dedication to those around her is something that continues to inspire me to this day and is a legacy she will leave in this community.”

Drs. Monks and WonskiThe future Dr. Monks was attending St. Mary’s College of Norte Dame – an all-women's college – where she felt her true calling.

“I always thought I would pursue a career in primary care as I loved the sciences and working with people. But it was my years at St. Mary’s that inspired my drive to empower women through their healthcare,” she says. “I chose a role that would enable me to take part in some of the most beautiful and difficult moments in a woman’s life.” 

After medical school, where she specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Monks completed her residency in 2020, exactly 30 years after her mother. She returned home to Boyne City, where she stepped into similar shoes: caring for her community while balancing motherhood.  

“From an early age, I grew up watching my mother show me it was more than possible to have work-life balance as a female physician. She was able to be a supermom who was actively involved with my siblings and I and the countless activities we participated in,” the mother of two shares. 

Dr. Monks and her two sons.Monks’ first child, Henry, was born at the end of her residency on Mother’s Day weekend – and at the height of COVID-19. The experience of pregnancy and delivery followed by motherhood was a meaningful springboard for her career.  

“It was an exciting, exhausting, and terrifying time with all the unknowns that were presented with COVID. Then I had my second son, Oliver, about two years into practice. I learned so much again as I embarked on the journey of welcoming a second child and balancing motherhood with a job that I adore,” Monks shares. 

While she describes the mother-physician balance as a learning curve that is all at once hard and amazing, she says the key is staying fully present. When her physician hat is on, Monks revels in the patient-provider relationship that comes so naturally with her role.   

“In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate the strength of women than supporting their healthcare and their journeys to becoming mothers... in whichever way that may be,” she says. “I love the emotional relationships that are formed while following patients throughout the many milestones in their lives – from their initial GYN visits to prenatal care, annual exams, and into menopause.”  

And just like her mom, Monks enjoys working with her patients both in the office and hospital setting.  

Drs. Wonski and Monks“Caitlyn choosing to come back home and provide much needed health care for women has just been a joy,” shares Wonski. “I hope she feels as blessed as I do after over 30 years! One of the pieces of advice I gave my daughter and hope to impart to others is, ‘Live in a community that will support you back. It does take a village!’” 

As for Wonski, three decades of practicing medicine haven’t slowed her down a bit. 

 Currently a hospitalist at Charlevoix Hospital, this doctor/mother/grandmother “superwoman” as her daughter describes her is transitioning back to practice family medicine at Boyne Area Health Center later this year. A familiar place where she looks forward to reconnecting with former patients and providers.  

Always one to step up for her community, Wonski is also actively involved in the new Petoskey Community Health Center, which opens its doors next summer.  

“It will provide an urgent care and primary care office, specialty services, and lab/ radiology services,” Wonski explains. “I will see patients there and work alongside our administrative leader, Joann Schroeder.” 

Though this mother-daughter duo began practicing medicine and motherhood in different eras, one thing remains the same: their commitment to caring for the community they both love and cherish.  

“I have enjoyed returning to the community that helped raise me and having the opportunity to give back to a community and area that has given me so much,” says Monks.