Member of the Month
Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald, MD
Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald, MD is a graduate of the University of Vermont College of Medicine and completed his residency at Kaiser Permanente Fontana. He currently practices with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in San Bernardino. As an early career physician member, Dr. “MM” has been engaged with CAFP and the Riverside-San Bernardino Chapter for nearly five years, and currently serves on the Legislative Affairs and newly-formed Member Engagement Committee. His advice to med students considering the family medicine specialty: “full scope family medicine is perhaps the single most challenging, constantly changing and rewarding specialty. Not only do you make a difference in individual patients' and families' lives, you also make a difference within the entire medical system and can shape care in ways I never realized as a med student.”
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?
I chose family medicine because of the breadth of the specialty, in addition to how foundational family medicine is to an individual’s or population’s health. Furthermore, the relationships that you build with patients and families, through good and bad times, are so unique to family medicine. During my third year of medical school I had a very hard time deciding what I wanted to be when I “grew up” because I loved everything. Turns out, I just loved family medicine. I also wanted to be a fully-rounded sports medicine specialist who can treat athletes at any age, and family medicine was the obvious choice.
Were you inspired by anyone to pursue family medicine?
Several different people over the years influenced my decision to become a family medicine doctor. In fact, for most of medical school I was planning to be a pediatrician. Ultimately, I was shown family medicine truly was where my heart lies as it offered the best path to becoming the Family and Sports Medicine Physician I had always wanted to be.
What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?
I think the moment I figured out what family medicine is was as a second-year resident. I saw a patient who had just been discharged from the hospital and was very anxious. He came in requesting several different referrals to different specialists for a number of reasons. Through discussion and counseling I took care of all of them, including his skin biopsy, which ended up being cancer. I provided him comprehensive, efficient care, at the right time and place, and followed up with him afterwards. He is doing very well; his cancer was fully removed and he remains my patient today.
What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine?
Comprehensive, efficient and caring.
What is the best experience you have had during your career as a family physician so far?
Taking my skills and experience outside of the clinic walls to the county medical society, Sacramento and Washington, DC to advocate for better patient care and helping to shape and craft policy that will allow physicians to take care of patients more efficiently and effectively.
It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:
There are multiple reasons. Professional relationships and the sense of community are very rewarding. Membership also provides a great resource for Continuing Medical Education. What I find most important, however, are advocacy and building the reputation and rewards associated with the specialty of family medicine. It is critical to support CAFP and AAFP and make the family physician voice heard at the local, state and national level as we are the foundation of a strong health care system. Family physicians have to stand up for themselves and one another. Being a CAFP/AAFP member ensures we have a strong voice and empowers us to improve the health of our patients and our profession.
The most important resource I find CAFP offers me is:
The support and community of other family doctors and advocacy for our specialty. I especially appreciate the ability to connect with and ask questions of the entire academy within the new CAFP SPARK online community.
What has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?
The first time I attended the CAFP All Member Advocacy Meeting, I was completely blown away by the passion, intelligence and experience of the family physicians in our state. From that moment, I knew I had to become more involved, not only to learn from these amazing family docs, but also contribute my own passion and energy.
How do you make a difference in family medicine and in your community?
I am very passionate about advocacy at the county, state and national levels. I think it’s critical that front line family doctors work with state and national leaders to make sure health policy improves care, and doesn’t make it more complex. Who best to advocate for our patients and communities than family doctors who treat our community every day? I am involved at my medical center, my medical group, county medical society and CAFP to advocate for what best serves our patients and doctors within our communities.
Tell us about a project in which you are involved and why it is important to you:
I am the area lead of our radiology utilization program within Kaiser Permanente San Bernardino County. We work across different specialties to emphasize appropriate, evidence-based best practices to help doctors ensure radiology studies are utilized safely and appropriately. We use multiple approaches, including education, information and data analysis, to provide doctors and patients the best information to minimize risk and maximize benefit.
What are good qualities a family physician should have?
Passion, dedication, comfort with ambiguity and a thirst to be a lifelong learner.
Do you remember your personal statement for medical school? If so, would you like to share an excerpt?
Oh man...I’m glad to say I think that computer crashed years ago...but I’ll admit...it was written on a computer. I think I wrote about how much I love treating children, which is why I thought I was going to be a pediatrician. I’m happy to say that I did end up treating children. I just also treat their parents and grandparents, both inpatient and outpatient. I probably delivered a few of them as well and performed their parents’ vasectomies when they were done having children.
What one sentence of advice would you give to medical students interested in family medicine?
Full scope family medicine is perhaps the single most challenging, constantly changing and rewarding specialty. Not only do you make a difference in individual patient's and families' lives, you also make a difference within the entire medical system and can shape care in ways I never realized as a med student.
How do you spend your free time?
Running, biking, playing with my kids, finding new restaurants and drinking good coffee.
If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?
Probably be an architect.
What would your best friend say about you?
Probably that I am dedicated, fiercely loyal and will stubbornly pursue my passion to the end.
Tell us something fun/unusual about yourself.
I raced as a professional triathlete for four years between medical school and residency.
Tell us briefly about your family.
My wife is a Child and Adult Psychiatrist. I have two seven- and five-year old daughters and a two-year old son, as well as a mini-dachshund.
Each month, CAFP highlights one outstanding California family physician member who lends their voice, time, talent and resources to strengthen the specialty of family medicine and his or her community. The Member of the Month interviews are conducted by CAFP staff. If you choose to share this article, feel free, but give appropriate source and author information. If you would like to share your story or know a family physician colleague who deserves to be recognized for his or her impact or leadership, contact us at (415) 345-8667 or email.