PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 125 nominations were submitted across Central Illinois to be the 2023 Remarkable Woman. We feature four finalists this year, one being Dr. Channing Petrak.

Dr. Petrak is a medical director at the Pediatric Resource Center. While working with children can be a difficult job, working with children who have been abused can take their care to another level.

“She’s one of the few child abuse pediatricians in this part of Illinois that’s practicing. Our mission at the Pediatric Resource Center is pretty cool. And so I wanted to really highlight what she does here and how she helps the program be amazing,” said Stephanie Johnson, executive director at the Pediatric Resource Center.

Dr. Petrak uses care, comfort, and courage to help children who have undergone situations that nobody should experience, which is why she was nominated for Central Illinois’ Remarkable Women.

“I think just knowing that I can make a difference in how that child feels about themselves and moves forward is just so important,” said Dr. Petrak.

Aside from her work at the resource center, Dr. Petrak is on the council for the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and their council on Child Abuse and Neglect. She’s also a part of the Child Fatality Chapter, is a board member for the National Children’s Alliance, and is involved with the Peoria Region Child Death Review.

“Knowing that children have potentially experienced something traumatic, I feel like having at least a positive experience while they’re here in our care is vital to them,” said Dr. Petrak. “Being the expert in the field, everybody comes to us with a concern of abuse or neglect. But it’s not always that. So just being able to help families and children in general, I think, is the most rewarding.”

Her coworkers recognized her impression on her patients, and employees around her, and nominated her as a remarkable woman.

“Her efforts to find justice for kids is really inspiring to me,” said Johnson. “Even if it’s just being with her when she’s taking photographs of a child who’s been terribly injured, she does it with grace and humility and an approach that really honors that child victim as a person.”

In their line of work, some days can be rewarding, while others can be much more difficult. However, either way the tide turns, Dr. Petrak does her job with grace. “You’re providing outstanding medical care for children who may have been abused or neglected, and that’s a rough job, no matter what you do,” said Johnson. “And to lead our fantastic team and do that well really makes her remarkable to me.”

Dr. Petrak’s career has affected about 5,000 children across the state and even with a number like that, she remains humble.

“As long as I feel like I’ve done the best I could do for that child in their family, then I’ve done what I could,” said Dr. Petrak.