CAFP proudly recognizes Ann-Gelle Carter, MD as the November 2019 Member of the Month.
Dr. Carter is originally from Illinois and graduated medical school at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Dr. Carter is currently a resident at Kaweah Delta in Visalia, CA. According to the Kaweah Delta website, when asked “Why Kaweah Delta?”, Dr. Carter responded with the following:
During my interview at Kaweah Delta, I felt drawn to the unique opportunity to train at this full spectrum Family Medicine Residency Program (encompassing Women’s Health, Pediatrics, Hospital Medicine, Rural Medicine and so much more) within this unique medically underserved region of California.
Dr. Carter is also the newest member of the CAFP’s Membership Engagement Committee
We sent Dr. Carter some questions to get to know her better and share her perspective on Family Medicine in California. Read her responses below!
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?
My personal experiences have shown me that by and large, it is the primary care physician that patients fundamentally think of when they mention “their doctor.” It is the responsibility of managing the overall health and wellness of patients from the entire lifespan, across all genders and walks of life, which has been the most fulfilling for me during my training. With each clinical encounter I remember feeling energized by the challenge to broaden my differential diagnosis, or to further explore the literature to discern the most up to date treatment strategy, while always remembering to take a moment to consider the potential barriers to treatment for each patient.
Were you inspired by anyone to pursue family medicine?
No. Not a particular person. It was the presence of a notable recurrent theme across many cities that I have both lived and trained in, specifically the countless health disparities that still exist within underserved communities across America. It was troubling to witness the multi-generational impact on these communities due to limited access to quality medical care and I felt inspired to personally effect change. Each day in my current resident practice, I encounter patients of all walks of life who have not been seen in a doctor’s office in years. Each such experience further illuminates the need to increase the number of well-trained family medicine physicians and has also motivated me to expand my future primary care practice to include a home-based primary care model.
What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine?
Patient Focused & Evidence Based
What is the best experience you have had during your career as a family physician so far?
I am quite early in my career, but I believe that the best is yet to come.
It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:
Being a member of CAFP and AAFP has provided me with a multitude of resources, insights, as well as a diverse network of people to learn from and interact with during my training. For many years, I have also sensed the urgency to continue our ongoing efforts to pursue health advocacy, equity and access for all persons. By uniting as a community of family medicine physicians, with a shared vision to achieve these goals, we are better able to ensure that measurable progress toward the long-term health goals that we aspire to will truly be achieved.
What has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?
Attending the CAFP Summit in Los Angeles has been my most memorable experience to date. There were a multitude of interesting lectures discussing guidelines for quality transgender care in the primary care setting, monitoring for physician burnout and how to achieve wellness, as well as caring for homeless populations which I found to be insightful and innovative.
How do you make a difference in family medicine and in your community?
In my practice, my patients are cared for with the same standard of exceptional care that I would give to my closest relative. It is my passion to close existing gaps/barriers to care and I truly value connectedness in my practice. As a result, I have found that I am able to easily facilitate community activism during my day to day practice model by routinely connecting patients to countless available community resources that they simply may not have been aware existed locally. By identifying and subsequently addressing individual social determinants of health, I am also better able to ensure that the comprehensive care that they receive in my clinic is reinforced once they return to their lives.
Naturally, there are countless ways to effect change in your community, I personally choose to lead by example and participate in physical activity-based initiatives such as voter registration drives, Susan G Komen Race for the Cure to raise breast cancer awareness, World AIDS Day 5K, and the Annual March of Dimes 5K to support prematurity awareness, to name a few.
Tell us about a project you are involved in and why it is important to you:
I am currently in the midst of a self-designed quality improvement project investigating annual screening for diabetic retinopathy in our FM resident continuity clinic. This is a project that I am incredibly passionate about because I truly believe that effective screening is the best tool available to primary care providers to ensure quality preventative care from a public health standpoint. As family medicine physicians, it is our duty to ensure that our patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes are routinely screened and evaluated for microvascular complications such as diabetic retinopathy on an annual basis. Ultimately our diligence with appropriate preventative care screening in this vulnerable population has the ability to reduce the incidence of development of glaucoma and progression to blindness. It is my goal to evaluate our current screening practices for diabetic retinopathy at the local level, in order to raise awareness at my current institution, to educate my fellow FM co-residents on best practices and to improve vision related outcomes for the patients that we serve.
What are good qualities a family physician should have?
Among the many important qualities to emphasize, perhaps the most important for a family physician is humanistic empathy. Next simply being collaborative, which often is described as a person who works well in a multi-level team-based structure. Thirdly, well rounded and naturally comfortable in many clinical settings. On any given day we effortlessly transition from performing office-based procedures within an outpatient clinic or urgent care, to monitoring acute patients in an inpatient pediatrics or hospital adult medicine setting, to successfully managing patients in a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology care practice setting. Fourthly, socially aware to ensure that the social determinants of health and adverse childhood experiences are routinely assessed and addressed with each patient encounter. Last but not least, inquisitiveness is key. By maintaining your commitment to lifelong learning and staying up to date on the latest evidence- based guidelines, you ensure that quality of care is consistently reinforced in your personal practice setting for the communities that you serve.
Do you remember your personal statement from medical school? If so, would you like to share an excerpt?
My clinical experiences have shown me that I desire close meaningful relationships with a diverse population of patients. With my profound appreciation for the gift and necessity of medical care, my personal life experiences have also shown me the connection between education and service to others. I believe that the more I learn, the more I am able to integrate and subsequently to share with the community around me. As I continue on my journey toward becoming a well-rounded clinician, I am also committed to exploring new ways to exchange my acquired knowledge with others and also to gain wisdom from them. My desire to have a positive impact on the lives of others, has motivated me to seek further training in order to address the numerous health disparities affecting underserved communities.
What one sentence of advice would your give to medical students interested in family medicine?
If you love caring for people of all ages, life stages, and walks of life, then pursue Family Medicine as a career.
Know that you are capable and well prepared to create a multigenerational impact on the people of your community, simply by making the choice to pursue family medicine as a career.
How do you spend your free time?
In my free-time I enjoy traveling, road trips, zumba and yoga.
What would your best friend say about you?
My best friend who also served as my maid of honor in my wedding on 5/19/18; would say that I am kind, loyal, dependable and most of all bubbly. She would say that throughout my life experiences and our 20+ year friendship, I have consistently demonstrated resilience and adaptability no matter what comes my way.