Member of the Month: Lisa Nash, DO
Educator endeavors to recruit future family doctors from rural communities
Access to care is a major issue in the transformation of our health care delivery system. Today 30 Texas counties have no primary care physicians practicing within their borders, so when students from underserved communities decide to pursue medical careers, it’s important to nurture those ambitions.
Lisa Nash, DO, is on the frontlines of making sure rural communities have access to health care. As Senior Associate Dean for General Medical Education at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, her unique perspective on the path from medical student to physician goes all the way back to her upbringing in Brock, Texas, a small agricultural community located west of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Nash is familiar with the unique hardships facing aspiring medical students from rural communities and how these hardships can affect their career choices. Her work within the Primary Care Pathway Program — which accelerates and streamlines medical student education and provides support throughout the academic journey — not only helps the next generation of family physicians achieve their goals but also makes sure rural communities reap the benefits.
How have your personal experiences influenced and inspired your work with Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine?
Growing up in rural Texas was a major influence on my specialty choice. TCOM is known for its strong history of producing primary care docs for Texas. That’s a good fit for me, and I’m a good fit for TCOM in return because of it.
Why did you choose family medicine, what’s your favorite aspect of it, and were you inspired by anyone?
Family medicine was a good choice for me because I always wanted to return to a rural community to practice and knew I would need that broad spectrum of training to be able to do that. I also loved women’s health and taking care of kids, and family medicine is the only specialty that encompasses both. The family medicine faculty who inspired me include Anesia Garmon, DO; Paul Saperstein, DO; John Bowling, DO; Jean Farrar, DO; and Irvine (Bud) Prather, DO. One of my greatest regrets is that Dr. Prather passed away before I returned to TCOM and had the chance to work with him.
It is important for me to be a member of AAFP and TAFP because:
My family medicine organizations are my professional home. I have family medicine friends and colleagues across the country and our professional organizations help keep us connected. The AAFP jobs website helped me find my first academic position at UTMB. Several times a month I’m accessing some type of resource provided by AAFP.
What are your hobbies?
Travel, reading, gardening, and watercolor painting.
How can we attract more medical students to family medicine?
It’s hard for kids who grow up in rural Texas – like I did – to get into medical school. We tend to be non-traditional applicants, often having attended college on scholarship and holding full or part-time jobs at the same time. Lots of us don’t have the opportunity to go to top tier colleges--I was a lucky exception. But people from those communities are much more likely to choose primary care, and also to return to the same type of community where they grew up. I’m really excited about the Primary Care Pathway Program we’ve started at TCOM in collaboration with Midland College. That program and others like it are great examples of initiatives to increase interest in family medicine.
What advice would you offer to medical students selecting their specialty?
A career lasts a long time. Choose something that you know you’ll be happy doing for a long time! As you go through your clinical rotations, think about where you feel comfortable and find yourself looking forward to your work day. Be grateful to your preceptors, and think about paying it forward someday by helping to train the next generation of physicians.
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 email@example.com or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.