Dr. Brent Simmons is a primary care physician at Drexel Medicine where he specializes in geriatrics, palliative care and family medicine. He plays an integral role in Drexel Medicine's patient-centered medical home program. Dr. Simmons is also an associate professor at Drexel University College of Medicine.
For those of us who know you as simply Dr. Simmons, can you tell me a little bit about your life before medical school?
I grew up in the blue collar coal region of Northeastern Pennsylvania—Hazleton, to be exact, which is about 40 miles south of Scranton. I went to Penn State University for undergrad where I decided during my sophomore year to pursue a business degree in finance.
What made you decide to go to medical school?
Throughout my junior and senior year I had a growing feeling that I made a mistake by not going into medicine. During my senior year, I applied for an internship at IBM which I had my heart set on. I got an email from the internship office that I was accepted and I couldn’t have been more excited. That Friday I went to the internship office to sign the paperwork where I was told the email I received was a mistake and I did not get the internship. That afternoon I drove to my parents' house for a previously planned trip home, and in the two-hour car ride from Penn State to Hazleton, I made the decision that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Had I gotten that internship, my life would have been completely different.
The financial and medical worlds, to me, seem like polar opposites. What was it like making that switch and did you find it academically challenging?
They are very different worlds, for sure. The switch was very easy though. Moving from the financial world (I did work for a year as a 401K consultant before going to medical school) to the medical world felt right and reaffirmed my choices. Challenges feel much less burdensome when you enjoy what you are doing.
How did you end up at Drexel and what do you like about working here?
Luck and good timing factored into me ending up at Drexel. I was looking for a job in academic family medicine at the same time the department was looking to hire. My favorite part of working at Drexel, aside from my wonderful colleagues, is the endless opportunity. Drexel has afforded me the opportunity to blaze my own trail and to me that is a very important key to enjoying where I work.
How is Drexel staying on the cutting edge of geriatrics and palliative care?
For geriatrics, our home visit program is a unique, grant-funded program. We focus on interdisciplinary care combined with complete geriatric assessments, including cognitive, functional, medical and social supports. We continue to expand our geriatric activities, which is vital as the average age in the city of Philadelphia continues to rise.
For palliative medicine, we are one of only two institutions in this city with a fellowship program and have the only residency program with a required four-week rotation in palliative medicine. We are on the cutting edge of palliative medicine education and are training the next generation of experts in end-of-life care.
The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a model of care that has grown in popularity and something that Drexel has adopted. What role do you play in this program and how are you seeing it benefit patients?
The team-based approach to care that is the cornerstone of PCMH is also the cornerstone of good geriatric care. I have worked closely with our chronic care coordinator and social worker to help improve transitions of care, coordinate services for our geriatric patients, and ensure correct medications and appropriate follow up.
As a native to this area, the community has played a large role in your life. What are you doing to help give back?
In addition to the home visit program, I started a health education program called "Doctor's In the House" at Center in the Park, which is a wonderful senior center in Germantown. I, along with my residents, go to Center in the Park monthly and provide outreach and education on various health topics.
Also, being a native, I understand you're a passionate Phillies' fan. What's the prognosis, doc?