Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Clinician Educator


Reflecting on my career, I realize that although at times not traditional or fully expected, each chapter has been vital in bringing me to the rewarding place I am today. Several themes have emerged, including the importance of partnership, collaboration, context and connection. My non-conventional path to medicine as an Anthropology Major and participation in the Mount Sinai Humanities and Medicine Program, provides the scaffolding for my day to day work in a variety of settings. I have learned that context, family beliefs and relationships are powerful factors that affect health, illness and well-being. This foundation has anchored and guided me throughout my career roles which have included a primary care pediatrician in an inner city health center, the Medical Director of Reach Out and Read RI, the Director of the Hasbro Eating Disorders Program, the Pediatric Director of the Hasbro Partial Hospital Program, and the interim Director of Adolescent Medicine at Hasbro. After residency in July 1999, I began as a primary care pediatrician at Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center (RoxComp), an inner-city community health center. With almost every patient encounter, the “presenting problem” was so much deeper than the “chief complaint”. While I no longer had ready access to a wide range of physician mentors, I learned that collaborating with “non-traditional” team members, including clinic staff, collateral providers, and most importantly our patients themselves, often offers the most valuable insight and expertise. Each day I witnessed the impact of being present, communicating clearly, listening, making connections and giving the gift of compassion; these were tools as valuable as my stethoscope. In 2002, I joined the team at the Hasbro Partial Hospital Program (HPHP), the innovative, integrated family-based day treatment program I was so intrigued by during my residency at Brown. Splitting my time between RoxComp and HPHP had a synergistic impact on my professional development and helped to prime my interest in working from a systems level to optimally support patients and families in the outpatient setting. In 2005, I was asked to support the Division Director of Adolescent Medicine at Hasbro with the Eating Disorders Program. In addition to consolidating my clinical endeavors to one institution and supporting the Division during a time of need, this role enabled me to develop an expertise in working with patients with Eating Disorders. I expanded my involvement in clinical teaching, a role I have valued and enjoyed since beginning my medical training. As a result of this experience, I became committed to advocating for and partnering with patients with Eating Disorders and their families. Over the last five years, my primary focus from a clinical and program development standpoint has remained in the HPHP. In October of 2011, I assumed the Pediatric Director role, and for the first time in several years was professionally focused in one location. Since 2002, I have engaged in clinical research at HPHP. One project has been the development of the Illness Beliefs Questionnaire (IBQ), initially funded through a small NIH funded instrument development grant. Other research projects have included designing a DBT for inpatients with Eating Disorders and exploring the impact of the HPHP intervention on outcomes for Type 1 DM and encopresis. Teaching trainees from a broad range of disciplines, and now assuming the role of Pediatric Teaching Director in HPHP, feeds my passion for teaching. I have been humbled by the honor of Brown medical school and residency teaching awards. in 2015. Comments from trainees evaluating my teaching reflect my emphasis on listening to and understanding the perspectives of pediatric patients and families in effectively managing their care, as well as imparting the value of team collaboration across disciplines and systems. HPHP has continued to grow successfully, and recent renovation has allowed the census to grow from 16 to 24 patients with commensurate growth in staff. HPHP remains the national gold standard as an effective model in pediatric med-psych care. The program has received the Bronze Achievement Award for Innovation from the APA Institute on Psychiatric Services (October 2013) and has been featured by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Health Care Innovations Exchange Webinar/Podcast on Patient and Family Centered Care (July 2014). Our team has continued to support efforts across the country to establish programs based on this model, providing consultation most recently to a team from Boston Children’s Hospital. Administrative responsibilities have helped me influence the way care is delivered from a systems level, as Director of HPHP and more recently as the Interim Division Director for Adolescent Medicine, where I support the work of an interdisciplinary team of more than fourteen physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Social Workers, and dieticians across multiple care settings. In Adolescent Medicine, I have become more formally involved with the ongoing development of the inpatient Med/Psych Unit, as well as leading the Eating Disorders Program again. I am proud of the clinical work and advocacy the Division provides adolescents, young adults and their families across the region. Additionally, involvement the Triple Board Advisory Committee, Faculty Development Committee and the Family Centered Care Steering Committee, as well as being the Medical Director for Reach Out and Read RI have enriched my professional life. The common threads through my work remain understanding the complexity of systems, valuing the role of family and context, and respecting the power of teamwork across all of these realms. My goal for the next part of my career is to contribute to continued excellence in the clinical care our growing team provides locally while supporting other teams around the country in applying this model in their own settings. This reflection has highlighted that the same approach that brought me to my current professional role is essential in caring for patients and families – including maintaining connections, partnerships, open-mindedness and flexibility . My motto has always been: “it takes a village." Now, more than ever, I understand the importance of this mantra in every realm of my professional life.

Brown Affiliations