In October, the Valley Health System was accredited for a family medicine residency program, and in July, its first two 10 residents will begin their training in it as the state works toward reducing the shortage of primary care physicians serving Nevada’s growing population. Dr. Christine Quartuccio-Carran, an assistant professor at Roseman University of Medicine, is the associate program director.
Describe your medical specialty and what makes it vital for our community.
Family physicians provide comprehensive, coordinated and continuous care to patients in all life stages. We provide preventive care services, in addition to the management of acute conditions and complex disease processes. With 1 in 5 of all office visits being conducted by family physicians and practice sites more evenly distributed across the U.S. than any other specialty, we often serve as the first contact for patients accessing medical care.
When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?
As long as I can remember. I sat side-by-side with my now 99-year-old grandmother in her recliner listening to her regale stories of patients she cared for during World War II and beyond as a naval nurse. Her relationships, experiences and empathy are some things that still inspire me today.
What prompted you to stay in Las Vegas in lieu of moving out-of-state?
Knowing how underserved medicine, and primary care in particular, is here, I knew that staying in Nevada was where I could have the biggest impact. Through four years of medical school and three years of residency training, I became connected with various medical organizations and groups that have allowed me to become more rooted in our medical community and understand the issues affecting both patients and providers locally and nationally.
Nevada has a one of the highest shortages of doctors and nurses nationwide. What can be done to cure the shortfall?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Nevada is projected to need an increase in our primary care workforce by 77% (or 1,113 physicians) by 2030, compared with other states needing an average increase of 25.2%. One way to bridge the gap between primary care physician shortages and increasing access within our underserved community is through the expansion of graduate medical education funding for both medical schools and residencies in Nevada, which is 48th in the nation for primary care physicians per 100,000 population.
How might an overhaul of health care at the federal level affect local health care?
As with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, changes on a federal level can have both positive and negative effects locally. Some of the major issues at the forefront include access to care in the right setting and at the right time; affordability for the patient to receive high-quality, comprehensive care; and payment reform that incorporates the provider’s time, training, expertise and quality of care administered.
What is the most important part of your job?
The patient. Pursuing a career in the medical field was a way to combine my love of science and desire to help others. Through the practice of medicine, seeing the person behind the patient and knowing that I have been entrusted with a great responsibility of service, trust, advocacy and care for each person is what keeps me focused, dedicated and passionate about what I do.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve received?
Read. Read. Read. Then read some more. Keeping up to date in medicine is so important, as the medical landscape is constantly changing with new advancements.
What is the key for work-life balance?
There has been a lot of talk among the medical community about physician burnout. My personal combat for this is making sure to take time for myself, my family and my friends, in addition to pursuing professional paths I am passionate about. My greatest commodity, outside of health or other basic necessities, is my time. I make a conscious effort daily to divide my time in ways that I am fulfilled.
Do you think the role of a doctor has changed over the years?
As society changes, so must we. We are becoming more tech savvy, more informed, and as such, providers are seeing patients armed with more knowledge than ever. It is our role as providers to interpret that knowledge and the patient’s presentation, with our role transforming into one more of collaboration.
Whom do you admire?
The person whom I admire the most is also the person who inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, my 99-year-old grandmother. I was recently asked by my 4-year-old daughter why I work. I told her that being a doctor is one of the ways I use my talent, knowledge and passion to help others. I am reminded of that old saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” My grandmother embodied this and now I strive to model this.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Apathy. One of the things I love most about being a physician is being an advocate. Advocating for my patients, my colleagues and my community is one way in which I try to make a difference. We all have some sort of talent that we can use to better ourselves and the lives of those around us — use it.
What is something that people might not know about you?
I love planning a great party for friends and family. I love putting all of the pieces together — good food, good company, good ambiance — and then relaxing and enjoying.
Do you have any advice for aspiring physicians?
See the person behind the patient. One of the greatest rewards in family medicine is the continuity of care we have with our patients. Getting to know our patients through the years, addressing barriers to care, understanding each person’s background reinforces the “why” behind what we do and helps us to better connect and provide better care for our patients.