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Member of the Month

November 2017

Marshall Kubota, MD

Marshall Kubota, MD is a graduate of Saint Louis University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Sutter Health Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency Program. An engaged member of CAFP and the North Bay Chapter, Dr. Kubota participated as a faculty member at the 2016 Family Medicine Clinical Forum and has been a contributor to the FP-PAC since 2003. “It may sound like an old saw and hard to believe, but it is more important than at any point in my career that the voice of family physicians be heard in the halls of government to protect the health and welfare of the people, all the people, who make up and are the fabric of our society.” Dr. Kubota, like more than 200 physicians in the Santa Rosa area, lost his home in the recent fires. CAFP sends thoughts for a quick recovery to the entire community.


Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?

I chose family medicine because I thought of it as the most medically powerful specialty. My favorite aspect has been my interactions with patients, and the privilege of often being an integral part of their health and well-being.


Were you inspired by anyone to pursue family medicine?

I had two Japanese-American general practitioners as role models while growing up. The value of contributing to society was inherited from my parents.


What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?

Having had a large clinical presence in caring for persons with HIV from the early years, I recall many instances of how these individuals anticipated and prepared for their deaths – including one who began saying his good-byes prior to a steep decline. He did not want his friends sitting vigil. He wanted to be with them while he could appreciate it. This kind of wisdom, courage and love was repeated many times with my patients.


What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine?



What is the best experience you have had so far during your career as a family physician?

I unintentionally delivered part of my daughter (the top half).


It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:

It may sound like an old saw and hard to believe, but it is more important than at any point in my career that the voice of family physicians be heard in the halls of government to protect the health and welfare of the people, all the people, who make up and are the fabric of our society.


What has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?

Working with the Academy in public policy as it has the ability to change things with a stroke of the pen. Working with terrific, smart, committed people.


the most important resource i find cafp offers me is:

A voice.


How do you make a difference in family medicine and in your community?

Currently, as a medical director of a nonprofit Medi-Cal intermediary, I make a difference by listening to our constituents (patients, clinicians and institutions). With my professional experience, I can work toward continual improvement in the health of my community and the professional experience of our clinicians.


tell us about a project you are involved in and why it is important to you

As a regional medical director of Partnership HealthPlan of California – the nonprofit Medi-Cal intermediary – my involvement in the Managing Pain Safely initiative has directly affected the prescription opioid epidemic. Through education and policy, the amount of prescription opioid in our highly affected communities has been reduced by about 70 percent. This results in a healthier patient population, a safer community and a greater professional satisfaction for our clinicians.


What are good qualities a family physician should have?

Besides the requisite intelligence, as in so many relationships, you’d better have a good sense of humor, even if it’s an ironic one!


Do you remember your personal statement for medical school? If so, would you like to share an excerpt?

Oh, no. I do not. Too long ago. I wish I had it so see if, and how much, I’ve changed. I know I was a starry-eyed optimist. I hope that’s still the case.


What one sentence of advice would you give to medical students interested in family medicine?

Unlike politics, don’t follow the money; follow your heart and passion.


How do you spend your free time?

With the family, but my self-time is fulfilling the stereotype – fishing, fly fishing.


If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?

I once thought about being a Buddhist minister.


What would your best friend say about you?

Was he ever a slob in college!


Tell us something fun/unusual about yourself:

My smartphone is full of 60s/70s ridiculously feel-good music (Twist and Shout, Maggie May, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough…).


Tell us briefly about your family:

I have been extraordinarily fortunate – I admire the accomplishments of all my children and have my wonderfully common sense-possessing wife to thank for that.



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.