Dr. Javier F. Sevilla-Martir
Javier F. Sevilla-Martir, MD, has acquired many titles in his ten years as a family physician. He practices and teaches as the Indiana University Methodist Family Medicine Center, which its in inner-city Indianapolis and serves a diverse community that includes system employees and a significant underserved population. Originally from Honduras, Dr. Sevilla-Martir is bicultural and bilingual, and is able to offer services to Spanish-speaking families, as well as support students interested in learning medical Spanish. Dr. Sevilla-Martir was the 2011 Taylor Excellence in Diversity Award winner, an honor from the university. He serves as an associate professor of clinical family medicine, director of Hispanic/Latino health, international medicine, and global health for the IU department of family medicine, and is assistant dean of diversity for the school of medicine.
Q: What led you to practice family medicine?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: I was led into family medicine after working with a family physician who I met while working as a general practitioner in a non-profit hospital in Honduras. It was clear that her training had provided her with a set of skills I wanted to have to practice medicine, both in my local practice at the time and my considering my dreams to one day participate in global health. It was holistic from every point of view and fit so well my career aspirations for academia and service to the community.
Q: What is a typical day for you?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: My typical day is a mix. I have clinic three times per week, and I finish my notes soon after every clinic. I teach medical students in five courses -- two classroom-based, two clinical rotations and an elective in Honduras. I also teach residents that take an elective course I offer at the Family Medicine Center. I meet with medical student interest groups, community leaders and other health professionals or faculty members to plan health education activities in the community and to prepare overseas trips for global health experiences. I staff and work on improving services at our student outreach clinic, as well as mentor and advise students, residents and junior faculty memmbers with interest in my areas of expertise. I work on research projects with students and residents preparing presentations. When not at work or volunteering -- which, believe it or not, happens a lot -- I spend time with my family and friends, playing with my 10-year-old son, watching "futbol" (soccer), and listening to music. We have two main vacations per year and take a "stay-cation" for the Holy Days to celebrate Christmas at home.
Q: How have things changed since you entered the field?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: During the past ten years the need for family physicians has increased, and with this so have the opportunities for service projects, innovative interventions to improve access to health care for underserved populations, and the quality of available services. That requires passion for service and a solid and diverse training experience.
Q: What do you wish you knew when you were in medical school?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: That every opportunity to get involved in service was a learning experience that will count in the future to develop similar experiences for learners. I am an individual who values context. My advice would be to become involved in at least one service learning opportunity throughout your years of medical school and become engaged with your community.
Q: What has been the greatest challenge you have faced as a family physician?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: System barriers to care for our patients have been a significant challenge at times. Through collaboration and development of activities and programs, we have been able to overcome them.
Q: What do you love about your work?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: I love the relational aspect of my practice. My greatest reward is getting to know my patients and gaining their trust through continuity of care and teaching the new generation of physicians, who will then go and serve their own communities.
Q: What do you tell undecided medical students who are considering family medicine?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: Take an elective month in family medicine in a practice that is similar in location and scope to what you would like your future practice to be.
Q: What community service activities are you involved in, and what motivates you to do this work?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: Family medicine is about the community, health promotion and prevention, as well as management of chronic and acute illnessess. There is no better way to learn and teach then through service. As advisor for six different student interest groups and service learning projects, we are often planning and providing health education in the community through health education events, health fairs, and through the student-run free clinic.
Q: What is your most vivid memory from medical school?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: Working in the poorest areas of the city through a service learning experience to identify families at risk and connect them to the health care system. I was a member of an interprofessional team on that project for one year.
Q: What surprised you most as a new physician?
Dr. Sevilla-Martir: There were no surprises, but I soon learned about opportunities to develop activities and programs to meet the needs of the community, and to collaborate with community organizations that involve students to spearhead those initiatives.