February 1, 2022
By Lisa Ryan
Why did you want to be a physician?
I enjoyed taking care of people and was always interested in science and how things work -- including the human body and mind. I went to The University of Michigan for college (Go Blue!) and while I was pre-med, I always enjoyed classes in literature and poetry as well.
Having an interest in the arts as well as medicine has helped me in my career, because there’s just as much art in medicine as there is science. For instance, getting to know people helps me take better care of them. I often ask my patients about their lives, their hobbies and interests. I also think there’s a lot of art to helping people understand what they need to do to stay healthy. A lot of times, I make a connection with a patient as a person, and once I’ve done that, I can talk to them about something like why they are afraid to get a mammogram. I think understanding literature, art, poetry, all these things that connect us to human emotion, helps me to take better care of people. That’s because I know there are all these other sides to people, not just their health.
What are some ways your medical education has shaped your work with patients?
Medical school encouraged me to push myself, but also be very disciplined. I think it also made me a lifelong learner. One of the things that we learned in medical school, and something we teach in medical school today is how to find the answer — not to memorize answers to standard questions. I really learned how to use resources, read medical and scientific literature, and learned to really think critically about clinical problems. I certainly still apply that to my work.
I never assume that my medical knowledge from a year ago holds the best treatment for my patient now. I’m constantly reading. I’m constantly looking at reputable sources and asking my colleagues, ‘What do you think about this? Let me run this case by you.’ I always want to improve my knowledge.
What advancements in your field are you most excited to see? What new practices or technologies have you been able to incorporate into your work in recent years, and how have you and your patients benefited?
The various ways to screen for common cancers are improving at a rapid pace. This gives patients more flexibility when it comes to screening tests and will help early detection of treatable cancers. For example, if a patient cannot get a colonoscopy, there are other alternatives, such as a non-invasive, DNA-based stool test. These options benefit a wider variety of patients.
Drexel Internal Medicine has a long history in serving its community. How do you feel that influences your work and your relationships with patients? What can patients expect from an appointment with you?
I entered the field of medicine to help patients in a holistic way. Understanding the community that patients live in helps me take better care of them.
My patients can expect that I will listen to their concerns, and I will explain their medical problems to them in a way they can understand. I am an open and honest communicator and use shared decision-making with my patients.
Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?
I like to spend time with my husband and our three kids. I like to cook, take daily walks, volunteer and travel.