Member of the Month: Tharani Ravi, MD
Academic physician mentors future physicians, inspiring many to pursue family medicine
By Kate Alfano
Tharani Ravi, MD, is a faculty physician at the UTHSCSA Family Medicine Residency Program. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California Los Angeles, where she developed her interest in medicine. She attended medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas in 2007. Inspired by her family medicine mentors’ altruism and passion for community service, she found her passion in family medicine. In 2011, she moved to San Antonio to attend the Family and Community Medicine Residency at UTHSCSA.
After completing residency, she stayed on with the residency program to join the faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor. She currently works at the Family Health Center where she cares for patients at her own continuity clinic and teaches family medicine residents and medical students. She supervises and teaches family medicine residents in several clinical settings, including the resident continuity clinic, the well-child clinic, prenatal clinics and the Juvenile Detention Center. She also serves as an attending physician at the Family Medicine Inpatient Service at the University Hospital.
To improve preventive care at the Family Health Center, she has participated in the development of an adult wellness clinic. In collaboration with the Center for Research to Advance Community Health, she strove to improve Hepatitis C screening and linkage to care for baby boomers with Hepatitis C at the Family Health Center. Dr. Ravi’s interests include teaching, preventive care and caring for the underserved.
Who inspired you to pursue family medicine?
My community-based research mentor in medical school was an amazing family physician; she inspired me to pursue family medicine. She was compassionate, smart, and hard-working and truly made a difference in the residents and students she taught. Her diverse skill set as a family medicine physician enabled her to impact a variety of patient populations. She was there at almost all major community health events. She was also the director of a free community clinic. It was inspiring to see the impact she had on her community.
What is the best part of practice?
I have the privilege of teaching residents and medical students at many levels. I truly enjoy teaching residents and inspiring them to be excellent clinicians who will never lose their passion for medicine. I also mentor medical students from year one of medical school. It is a privilege being able to mentor them throughout their four years of medical school, starting from adjusting to the rigors of medical school to choosing a medical specialty, while guiding them through their highs and lows during their medical school years. I also have the opportunity to volunteer as an attending physician at a student-run free clinic; I particularly enjoy this clinic because I am able to show medical students the importance of primary care and inspire them to be family physicians.
What is the hardest part of practice? Who or what keeps you going on the hard days?
We often have patients whose health does not improve despite our best efforts. In these instances, we often feel helpless but we are uplifted by the fact that many of our patients consider our physician-patient relationship as an important source of support for them.
How has your practice changed to serve patients during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In order to provide safe patient care and to protect the health of our providers, half of our clinic visits have become telemedicine visits. The in-person appointments are spaced out during the day, to limit waiting room use.
During the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in San Antonio (in June and July), we created a new inpatient family medicine team to serve overflow patients in our hospital. It was amazing to see many faculty and residents step up without hesitation to staff this new inpatient service and take care of our sick COVID patients. Almost everyone in our residency was very flexible and adjusted well to their ever-changing schedules.
What are your passions, interests or hobbies outside of medicine?
I enjoy hiking and travelling to national parks. I love spending time with my husband, four-year-old son, and our large extended family, and having fellowship with our church family.
As a teacher, what advice do you most often give to students and residents?
I often tell medical students that family medicine is a field with many different opportunities. They have the opportunity to work in a variety of clinical settings that suits their specific interests and priorities. It is hard to get bored practicing family medicine; every patient coming into clinic is so unique, and the diverse age range of patients we see and procedures we perform make family medicine an interesting field.
I often advise family medicine residents to give back to the community; family physicians are uniquely equipped with the skills needed to improve the health of a community as a whole.
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.