Local doctor returns to serve community

September 09, 2021

After experiencing big city life during her surgical fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, Dr. Kayla Watkins-Jones, could not have been happier to return to her roots in Stephens County to further her career.

A 2008 Duncan High School graduate, Watkins-Jones began her first day as a general surgeon at The Surgical Institute at True North in Duncan on Tuesday.

It was a long 13-year road of undergraduate and medical school at the University of Oklahoma. She then completed her five-year residency at OU Health Sciences Center before completing her training with the fellowship at Emory.

“General surgery is very broad,” Watkins-Jones said. “A lot of it revolves around the mid-section because there are so many things located there.”

Watkins-Jones said it is an incredible opportunity to work at the institute. She was born at Duncan Regional Hospital and now she is back.

She had shadowed Dr. Che Miller, the CEO of the institute, while she was in medical school, so she already ha a good understanding of how things work.

“I love being close to family and friends and it’s really awesome to come from a small town and to be able to give back,” Watkins-Jones said. “My family is just as excited as I am that I am back.”

She said all the hard work she has put in over the years is worth it to be able to come back and practice medicine in her hometown.

“Dr. Watkins understands life in rural Oklahoma, particularly in Duncan,” Miller said. “She grew up here, attended our schools, completed undergrad, med school and residence in Oklahoma and is perfectly positioned to help the people of our state. She understands the needs of Oklahomans and how important it is to get back to health quickly.”

She will be the first female general surgeon to practice in Duncan.

When she’s not working, she likes to do Peloton biking, hiking and hunting with her dad.

“Dr. Watkins is eminently qualified and just completed one of the most prestigious minimally invasive surgery fellowships in the country at Emory University in Atlanta” said Miller. I expect she will transform the culture of surgery in our state with techniques that use the smallest incisions and yield the biggest results.  She will set new standards for enhanced recovery and excellent outcomes.”