DeVry C. Anderson, MD, started his career as a military surgeon, completing an internship in orthopedic surgery before serving in the military. He went back to complete a family medicine residency in 2009 and now serves as a military surgeon for the Warrior Transition Brigade, Fort Hood, TX, and as owner and chief medical officer for Quick Care Walk In Clinic(quickcaretoday.com), North Austin, TX. Dr. Anderson uses his training for the management of simple fractures and common sports injuries, occasionally working the sidelines for high school sporting events. He also has Federal Aviation Administration designation as an Aviation Medical Examiner, which allows him to offer health care to both military and civilian pilots. Through his two practices, he is able to serve two very distinct medical communities. At his military practice, Dr. Anderson focuses on full-spectrum adult medicine and flight medicine, often seeing issues common to pilots, soldiers and veterans returning from war, including behavioral health and sports injury components coupled with routine health maintenance and screening. The Quick Care clinic services a predomantly Spanish-speaking and underserved population, and the care is focused on urgent care medicine, patient education and access to care for a population that might otherwise only be able to utilize the emergency room for routine care.
Q: What led you to practice family medicine?
Dr. Anderson: I originally began my medical career as a surgeon, however, after multiple military deployments, my previous medical lifestyle began to weigh heavily on my family. I entered the family medicine residency because of my desire to build my career around my own family life, not the other way around.
Q: How have things changed since you entered the field?
Dr. Anderson: Nation-wide health care reform coupled with the transition to the patient-centered medical home has been the hallmark of the past three years of family and primary care medicine. Increasingly, the primary care physician is being relied upon to be the hub of patient care and the portal of entry for every other level of specialty care medicine. There has likewise been increased utilization of physician extenders, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse case managers and clinical social workers, to augment the practice of family physicians. These extenders have in no way replaced the family doctor, but rather they have served to magnify our ability to serve larger patient populations.
Q: What would you tell an undecided medical student who is considering family medicine?
Dr. Anderson: Family and primary care medicine provide a unique opportunity to directly interact with and impact the community in which you work. Family physicians are central to the provision of health care and we are typically the first contact the patient has with the health care system. Because of the broad training we receive in family medicine residencies, family physicians are really able to branch off into any number of unique practice niches. You will find family physicians in the emergency room and practicing obstetrics and office gynecology, behavioral health, aviation medicine, urgent care medicine, preventive/travel medicine and sports medicine, as well as in health care administration roles and hospital leadership roles. There is no other specialty that offers the diversity in practice and lifestyle as family medicine.
Q: What surprised you the most as a new physician?
Dr. Anderson: I was surprised at how often barriers are present which restrict the 'gold standard' of treatment for even the most common conditions. In medical school and in residency we were taught the best practice for treatment of most conditions, however, economic constraint or logistical challenges often prevent many patients from accessing what should be routine care. As a primary care physician deployed to Iraq, I found that simple things like radiogrpahs or lab services were not always readily available. Likewise, in underserved areas, patients without medical insurance often are not able to easily obtain simple adjuncts to routine health care.
Q: What is a typical day for you?
Dr. Anderson: Each day for me starts around 6:30 a.m. in the clinic. We have unscheduled/walk-in or urgent care hours from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m., and the first scheduled patient on most days will arrive at 8:00 a.m. On Monday, there will be routine appointments until noon. There is typically a Monday afternoon meeting with clinical social workers, occupational therapists, patient attendants and nurse case managers, as well as other administrative staff, to discuss significant issues with patients extending beyond office-level clinical care. The meeting will encompass referral management and social issues impacting medical care and treatment for individual patients. Sometimes it will also involve coordination with affiliated hospitals and in-patient facilities and discussion with other providers, such as physical therapists, pain management physicians, surgeons and other sub-specialists.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are usually reserved for adult medicine/flight medicine patient care until 4:00 p.m. After the morning schedule on Thursdays, however, I head to my church, where I lead a Thursday lunch-time Bible study in an afternoon men's group.
Q: What do you wish you knew when you were in medical school?
Dr. Anderson: Finance and practice management. The business of medicine is important to understand as you progress in your career, especially if you aspire to practice ownership, and little or no emphasis was placed on this aspect of health care provision while I was in medical school. I advise all physicians nearing the completion of residency to explore the business aspect of medicie no matter what your specialty. The American College of HealthCare Executives (ACHE) is a wonderful organization that residents and physicians alike can become a part of to deepen and broaden their understanding of the executive side of health care.
Q: What do you love about your work?
Dr. Anderson: Being a military physician provides a unique sense of purpose and an incredible sense of pride. You know that you are making a difference every time you put on the uniform and look into the eyes of service men and women who have volunteered to serve in the defense of this great country. Being a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps means that I was and am a part of something that is much larger than myself. From a more practical standpoint, the rank structure inherent to the military makes the everyday practice of military medicine somewhat simpler than the practice of medicine in other organizations. Esprit de corps and interpersonal respect are part of military culture and naturally extended into military medical practice environments and clinical interactions. Likewise, providing care to underserved populations also brings a simililar sense of purpose and pride. I entered the field of medicine because I wanted to help people and to make a difference. Being a family physician in both of these settings has allowed me to do that.
Q: What has been the greatest challenge you have faced as a family physician?
Dr. Anderson: Probably the greatest problem I have faced as a family doctor is the impact of the rising cost of the provision of quality health care. As I continue to provide care to veterans transitioning out of the military as well as to families in underserved areas, I find that the cost of health care significantly impacts the care patients receive. Young practitioners are somewhat buffeted if not totally shielded from the executive and financial management related to their medical practice. There is a lot of emphasis placed on best practices and clinical acumen in physician training environments, however, far less emphasis is placed on the 'dollars and cents' of medical practice and the practical application of health care management. I spend a great deal of time in military environments working to engage patients with the many programs already in place to assist veterans with health care. In the private sector, I am working to align Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) organizations, FQHC look-alike organizations and major health care institutions with smaller, individually owned practices in an effort to better allow for fedral supplementation of health care and better access to specialists and hospital settings when needed.
Q: What is your most vivid memory from medical school?
Dr. Anderson: I remember practically living in the library at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia!
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Medical School & Residency
In Their Own Words: Family Physician Q&As
Dr. DeVry C. Anderson