Member of the Month: Crystal Nwagwu, MD
Academic family doc focuses on advocating for patients
By Samantha White
After completing her residency at UT Health San Antonio, Crystal Nwagwu, MD, began her career in academic medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She not only practices full-spectrum family medicine, but is also core faculty for Baylor’s Family Medicine Residency program and precepts both residents and medical students.
Who or what inspired you to become a family physician?
My formative years were in Nigeria. When I was 11 years old, I recall thinking that I wanted to be someone who could help my community members with their health concerns. My first memorable interaction with health care was going to the pharmacy to get medications. In my community and like many others, we would often go to the pharmacy to obtain medication for common illnesses. If you were unsure of what you needed for the illness, the patient often had to explain their symptoms and to receive empirical treatment. I recall wanting to be the person who would help those in my community by counseling and providing adequate treatment. Before I knew the scope of a family physician, I wanted to be a family physician.
What has surprised you most about family medicine?
The scope of family medicine has been a genuine surprise for me. I’m amazed by the variety in practice that family medicine offers, whether it be an administrative position or college provost leadership position. A career as a family physician offers numerous and various opportunities and a platform to advocate for patients.
Why do you choose to be a TAFP member?
TAFP provides a community of family physicians to interact and exchange ideas. It is in this networking that we get to know each other and share our experiences. I enjoy the pipeline that TAFP has created for undergraduate and graduate students with the goal to heighten exposure to primary care. Creating space for students gives them an opportunity to network with primary care physicians. The proximity of this relationship created by TAFP offers students an opportunity to understand the various niches family physicians inhabit. I chose to be a TAFP member as it provides increased opportunities for practicing physicians through advocating and continued learning.
What led you to get involved with organized medicine and attend NCCL?
I got interested in organized medicine to strongly advocate for my patients. I first attended NCCL as a third-year resident and loved it! It was an amazing experience to join with like-minded individuals, exchanging ideas and sharing resources to better serve our unique communities. I delight in the fact that ideas expressed at NCCL are debated with the focus on patients and physician well-being. I have learned that no idea is too small or inconsequential regarding these matters.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
I enjoy spending time with my husband of nine years and my two young children under five. I love cooking and trying new recipes as well as exercising and spending time with friends.
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 TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.