Member of the Month
Christine Navarro Deleon, MD
Christine Navarro Deleon, MD is a graduate of David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and completed her residency at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles, where she continues to practice and serves as a core member of the residency program. A member of CAFP and the Los Angeles Chapter for just over a decade, Dr. Navarro derives her greatest membership value from “the sense of community learning with my peers. There is an honest pursuit of knowledge and advocacy for the health of our patients and communities. We are able to stay true to the rigor of science and the human need for balance and sense of purpose in our chosen profession.”
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?
Family medicine gives us the freedom to connect with our patients completely. We are able to wade in other areas contributing to their health, such as their families, communities and their own perspectives of their health. It allows us to pursue solutions to problems in an individualized and personal way.
Were you inspired by anyone to pursue family medicine?
I met several family medicine physicians at the Salvation Army Mobile Clinic while a volunteer there at UCLA School of Medicine. Among them were Drs. Richard Usatine and Jimmy Hara. I came to admire their approach to the patients and families that we cared for at that clinic. They collectively approached our Saturday clinics with joy, laughter and a sense of community with the people we served. I thought, "Yes, this is how I want to practice."
What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?
I remember apologizing to a patient when I felt I made a mistake that harmed her. I was a young physician and was vulnerable and afraid. My patient forgave me and my gratitude for that moment continues to this day. I learned to truly listen to patients; not just what they say, but what they don't say.
I also remember the patients who exemplify the universal core values of service, courage, humility and joy. I truly have come to admire my patients who influenced me just by being who they are. Mrs. B's sense of service, Mr. M's courage in the face of cancer. I look forward to our visits and I feel renewed and inspired every time I see them. They are my antidote for stress and burnout.
What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine?
Connection. At least I hope so. I try to connect to something unique to each patient, whether it is their interests, hobbies, families or careers. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I struggle or fail miserably. Technology has helped promote this connection. We share exercise goals, photos of rashes and take selfies together.
What is the best experience you have had so far during your career as a family physician?
I have attended to patients with life-threatening illnesses and at their end-of-life and it is in these moments that I am able to express how much I truly love my patients. It is intimate and exhausting, but the most moving experience in medicine.
It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:
Of the sense of community learning with my peers. There is an honest pursuit of knowledge and advocacy for the health of our patients and communities. We are able to stay true to the rigor of science and the human need for balance and sense of purpose in our chosen profession.
What has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?
I participated in the CME Leaders Institute several years ago where I went back to revisit why I became a family physician. It was great to be a learner from Tom Bent, Shelly Rodrigues and my fellow participants. I enjoyed being challenged to think, learn and do homework again. There were funny moments seeing us struggle and be supportive of each other.
the most important resource i find cafp offers me is:
People. I have connected with students, residents and fellow attending physicians who share the same goals. We come back each year to reconnect to this sense of mission and purpose.
How do you make a difference in family medicine and in your community?
I am a core faculty member of the Kaiser Family Medicine residency at the Los Angeles Medical Center and in this role am able to work with residents and medical students in clinic, hospital and outreach community programs with STEM students. Through this role I hope to extend my impact beyond my daily work and hopefully influence the future of our profession.
tell us about a project you are involved in and why it is important to you
I partner with multi-disciplinary teams in the hospital working with case management and social workers to address the patients' and families' needs when they are in medical crisis. We look to provide resources for patients in their communities to support their health and recovery. It is a collaborative effort among different disciplines and across different settings and it gives me so much appreciation of the contributions of other members of this team.
What are good qualities a family physician should have?
Curiosity, energy and resilience. All these qualities can be learned and need to be nurtured.
What one sentence of advice would you give to medical students interested in family medicine?
Stay curious. No one knows all the answers; sometimes they are not yet here.
How do you spend your free time?
I exercise, garden and travel.
If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?
I wanted to be a scientist. I love science and nature. It would have to be something along those lines.
What would your best friend say about you?
That I am always trying out something new. I got a new plant, lots of new hobbies at the same time.
Tell us something fun/unusual about yourself:
I was always borrowing my husband's tools so he got me a powerset for Mother’s Day.
Tell us briefly about your family:
I have two sons in college and my husband and I are enjoying empty-nesting by camping.
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.