Member of the Month:
Tamarah Duperval-Brownlee, M.D., M.P.H.
Lone Star Circle of Care executive strives to help the underserved
Tamarah Duperval-Brownlee, M.D., graduated medical school from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and also holds a Master’s of Public Health from Harvard University. A family physician for nearly 15 years, she enjoys helping families attain good health through preventative and proactive care and she believes in listening to her patients and providing respectful, compassionate care.
She currently serves as the chief executive and chief medical officer for clinical systems of Lone Star Circle of Care, a federally qualified health center with 26 locations across four counties in Central Texas. In this role, she oversees clinical quality and clinical operations and administration, oversees the medical executive team, and coordinates a system for patient care review and clinical practice activities that promote efficiency and quality in patient care processes. Duperval-Brownlee also serves as a clinical assistant professor of family medicine for Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center.
She takes a strong patient-centered approach to medicine with a special interest in women, children, and underserved populations.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career. I’m a wife, sister, aunt, and family physician of 13 years, who’s passionate about ensuring high quality of care, preventive services, and health care access and equity for everyone, especially underserved populations. I’m a first generation Haitian-American born and raised in Chicago, Ill., and was raised with a high sense of appreciating faith, culture, family, and giving.
I did my training and education in medicine in Chicago, which was followed by a year at the Harvard School of Public Health where I completed a Master’s in Public Health and Fellowship in Health Policy. I practiced full scope family medicine for my first 11 years in Chicago, from ambulatory medicine to obstetrics, and served as a medical director for a federally qualified health center and assistant professor of family medicine for the University of Illinois.
I came to Texas in March 2011 to serve in a great opportunity with Lone Star Circle of Care, a large federally qualified health center based in Central Texas, serving residents in Williamson, Travis, Bell, and Bastrop counties. I serve as the chief executive and chief medical officer of the organization, providing clinical and operational oversight for the care of nearly 95,000 people.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone? I chose family medicine because it was the discipline that most embodied the mission of holistic, comprehensive care that resonated with my own personal mission in medicine. I realized early in my education the tremendous privilege that physicians have in impacting lives for the good and I wanted to be able to use the skills I honed to make the greatest impact possible, being not only a provider of care, but an advocate for patients in arenas where decisions about health policy were being made.
I was imprinted from my first year of medical school when I participated in what was then a new program of exposing medical students to primary care from the beginning of their education. Dr. Gary Reichard was my preceptor for the Longitudinal Primary Care program and in addition to appearing to know everything about medicine, he was kind, compassionate, and practiced patient-centered care. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.
How big of a role does HIT play in your practice? It’s crucial for the coordination of care for our patients. With 26 locations across four counties, we would be unable to provide the scope of care for our patients (including primary care, integrated behavioral health, and specialty care access) with the ability for on-time communication and access to information throughout all their touch points in the health care continuum.
What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine? Evidence-based and patient centered.
What is the most interesting experience you have had when dealing with a patient? It seems that my most interesting experiences have been centered around maternity care, where I think that family docs can have tremendous impact not only at the moments in the delivery room, but throughout life. The funniest experience was with a patient I delivered in my third year of residency, who came in at 6 cm in active labor. I had enough time to do a quick check, and ask for a room set up, when two minutes later she was pushing. I was able to get one glove on and helped her deliver a beautiful baby girl.
When all was said and done, I asked her her name and she asked, “Don’t you remember me Dr. Duperval?”, and we realized that I delivered her in a similarly quick way about a year prior. We laughed a lot after that.
What is the biggest opportunity or challenge you see in the specialty in the next five years? Retaining and building capacity of physicians to meet primary health care needs of our communities and even more critically, development of primary care leadership that can help direct and inform policy and population management.
How do you spend your free time? I find balance in being an avid reader (I participated in my first book club this year), amateur runner (I completed three marathons for charity and still do half marathons and 5Ks for fun), and spending time with my husband. Golf is my next developing passion – I’m looking to take lessons soon.
Where is your favorite getaway? I’ve had the privilege of traveling to many places, and my husband and I really enjoy the Caribbean and default there to vacation quite a bit.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting Kate Alfano by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666 ext. 16. View past Members of the Month here.