Dr. Patri talks about the relationship with her patients, how she balances her career and family life, and her plans for the Fresno-Kings-Madera Chapter.
When Dr. Jyothi Patri, a Family Physician in Central Valley, CA, won the Top Physicians Under 40 Award in 2019, she was 36 years old. It was a moment of honor when the chairman of the organization said how proud he was of her and the impact of her work in Uniontown and surrounding counties.
The idea of becoming a family physician began when she was in medical school in India when she realized she wanted to focus on more than one area of medicine. She needed variety and wanted a relationship and bonding with a patient. It was then she knew she wanted to be a family doctor.
“There’s no concept of family medicine in India. There is internal medicine, and then there is OB/GYN and other specialties,” said Dr. Patri. “I was very attracted to the concept of family medicine, so that’s why I moved here.”
She first completed a Master’s in Health Administration, then started her journey in family medicine with a residency at the University of Oklahoma.
With her extroverted personality, Dr. Patri enjoys the friendship and bonding of the relationship with her patients. “They become your second and third family,” she said. She’ll never forget when a patient went on a trip to Disneyland and brought back a gift for her two-year-old daughter. “That shows how much they care for you.”
Dr. Patri currently works as a clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco in Fresno, teaching outpatient procedures to medical students, and seeing patients at the Clinic Family Medicine. She does frequent community work, is a peer reviewer for three different popular family medicine journals, and is involved with the CAFP’s Fresno-Kings-Madera Chapter, a chapter with more than 300 members. In November 2020, she was elected the local chapter president.
She began at the Fresno-Kings-Madera Chapter as educational chair and held that position for almost a year when she was appointed as interim president. In the chapter, she started a local e-newsletter that included articles from residents and involved local chapter members in volunteer work for the community. One of the volunteer activities was a flu vaccination drive, organized by the public health department.
“Since I work with residents and other physicians in the community, we were able to have some of the residents actively participating in that flu shot drive for two days, Saturday and a Sunday. It was a good experience,” she said. “We want to do the same thing with the COVID-19 vaccinations.”
COVID-19 vaccination outreach is on top of the list of the plans she has for her local chapter in 2021, besides other community work. The list also includes educational sessions about equity and diversity in the community, on the waves of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged not only the practice of medicine but also the teaching. Recently resumed bedside rounds in the clinics for the medical students was a rarity during the pandemic.
“The problem with telemedicine is that we have to do more frequent visits. When a patient walks into the office, just by looking at them and examining them you can see and make out a lot of things,” she said. “On the phone, you have to ask the patient every little symptom.”
According to Dr. Patri, the solution is to incorporate residents and medical students into the telemedicine process, for the distress of patients who are not happy that physicians are not seeing them in person.
Dr. Patri is married to hospitalist Dr. Vinay Krishna Pulusu, MD, and has a four-year-old daughter, Kriti. On a typical day, Dr. Patri drops her daughter at school and goes to work. When she gets home, she cooks, watches some TV, or does something fun, like playing with her daughter in the backyard. After Kriti goes to bed, that’s when Dr. Patri finishes up her office work.
During her free time, Dr. Patri enjoys traveling, biking, hiking and gardening and spending time with family.
Finding balance is difficult but is something she is actively trying to achieve. She believes that, just like in any household, work-life balance is particularly important for a physician, and she uses trial and error to see what works.
“When everything falls into place, you enjoy your work. You come home, you don’t bring your stress from work, and you spend time with family,” she said. “That keeps you going.”
Dr. Patri’s plans for the two-year term as chapter president are to support local medical students and residents in advancing their professional growth and involvement in CAFP and chapter activities. Some of the plans include an extension of CME activities for local primary care physicians, to help co-physicians in difficult times during the pandemic, initiating a wellness program in the chapter, and adding medical students/residents in chapter board. Involving medical students and residents earlier in their career hones their leadership and advocacy skills. The wellness program initiation will be the first of its kind in the chapter history.
The Fresno-Kings-Madera Chapter is on a mission to educate and support the local Family Medicine Community.
“We aim to bring members together by offering activities which promote quality continuing medical education,” she said. “[Our goal is to] develop relations for primary care, and support students and residents interested in becoming Family Medicine Physicians.”