Dr. Susanna Evans is a primary care physician at Drexel Medicine's University City office. In addition to family medicine, she has a particular interest in women's health and preventive medicine. Dr. Evans is also an assistant professor at Drexel University College of Medicine where she teaches residents and medical students.
For those of us who simply know you as Dr. Evans, can you tell me a little bit about your life before medicine?
I was an English major in college and studied professional writing. I took a lot of courses that focused on writing for the sciences. Most of that writing was on preventive medicine and healthy living. Eventually, I decided I wanted to do more than just write about it, so during my junior year, I started taking the necessary steps to apply to medical school. That, of course, required some backtracking and taking the prerequisite courses, but with the help of some 18-credit semesters, I still managed to graduate on time. After graduating, I took a year to do research at Penn State Hershey to get more background in the sciences, and then I went to medical school at Penn State.
Did you always have an interest in science?
No, not really. I was an athlete growing up and I played field hockey in college, so I always figured I would go into coaching or maybe something related to health in sports. The science material still came fairly easy to me with the exception of organic chemistry, but it wasn't my first thought to go the science and medicine route.
After your family medicine residency, you did a fellowship in rural medicine and obstetrics. Now that you work in a major city, how does that training help you?
I have an interest in women's health, so after residency, I pursued a rural obstetrics fellowship where I did a year of labor and delivery, operative obstetrics, and several other forms of care related to women's health.
It's ironic because while it's called “rural medicine,” it actually translates really well to urban environments. You deal heavily with underserved populations and you see very similar problems in the city.
What kind of patients do you see at Drexel's University City office?
The practice here in University City was originally created because the family medicine department had been running Drexel Student Health since 2002. We took a look and realized we were providing all this care for the students but were overlooking the faculty, staff and the families right here in the community. We take most insurances in this area, so we have an incredible mix of patients. In addition to Drexel's faculty, staff and local families, we also see a large number of patients from the United States Coast Guard stationed at a small base in South Philadelphia. They closed their medical services at the base and started looking for providers in the area and they selected us. We see around 285 Coast Guard members who get their primary care here.
Being a family medicine practice, do you see patients of all ages?
I see everyone from babies to seniors. It's great when you get a whole family in here. Usually if I'm seeing a baby, I'm seeing the whole family—siblings, parents, and maybe even grandparents. It's convenient and beneficial to both me and the patients. You get a better idea of family history. You also get a feel for what stressors are in that family. You get to know the family dynamics, which can have a big impact on health.
Outside of a sick visit, how often do you recommend that a patient sees their doctor?
At a minimum, I recommend an annual visit. There's enough preventative measures we can discuss and vitals we can check. Then depending on age and other health factors, the frequency of visits vary. A newborn, for example, we see at two weeks of life and then at two months, four months, six months, nine months, and a year. Those are just routine visits. With kids things always come up, so we see them a lot.
What would you say are the biggest health concerns among the patients you see?
The biggest problem we see across all our age groups is being overweight and obesity. We do a lot of counseling, and we rely heavily on the nutritionists here at Drexel Medicine. With obesity comes many other health concerns and medical problems, so we focus on it a lot. We also see a lot of patients with depression and anxiety.
What are the benefits of being a patient at Drexel Medicine?
Having worked with underserved populations in the past where referrals can be difficult and not always knowing the specialists you're sending patients to, Drexel makes getting the care you need incredibly convenient and it's top quality. Patients essentially have everything they need under one roof. Getting referrals and getting patients to see the specialists they need is really easy. We also have all of the ancillary services like nutrition and physical therapy which is great.
Do you enjoy working with medical students and residents?
Almost every day I'm working with either medical students or residents. I teach them in the office, at the hospital, and in the classroom. I love having them around. It keeps you on your toes. You always end up learning while you're teaching and I feel like I'm a better physician because of it.
What separates Drexel Medicine from other health care providers in the area?
One benefit of Drexel Family Medicine, in general, is that we are a teaching environment. Almost any physician you see is involved in teaching, so you know you're getting up-to-date information and really great care that's supported by cutting-edge research at the University.