The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

Women’s Health & Patient Advocacy with Dr. Cynthia Calixte

Dr. Cynthia Calixte talks about family medicine, her work in women’s health, and how doctors can advocate for their patients efficiently.

  • [01:31] Why Family Medicine?
  • [02:30] Dr. Calixte’s Current Work in Family Medicine & Women’s Health
  • [08:08] Pursuing a Master’s Degree and a Fellowship
  • [11:21] Choosing a Women’s Health Fellowship over OB-GYN
  • [14:10] Balancing Several Jobs as a Healthcare Provider
  • [17:01] How to Advocate for Patients
  • [19:36] Speaking Up Makes an Impact
  • [22:55] Dr. Calixte’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen chats with Dr. Cynthia Calixte, a family medicine doctor at Chesapeake Health Care. She has a fellowship in women’s health and a master’s in public health. Wearing many different hats, Dr. Calixte advocates for healthcare equity and reproductive health in all her jobs. Today, Dr. DeRouen talks to Dr. Calixte about her diverse roles and how doctors can advocate for their patients efficiently.

Why Family Medicine?

As a first year in her BS/MD program, Dr. Calixte’s first experience with family medicine was when she shadowed a doctor in that field. She also helped out in her mentor’s research project concerning women’s health. Ever since then, she realized that family physicians do not only deal with kids, but can also provide patient care in a variety of settings.

Dr. Calixte’s advocacy for accessible health care and women’s health lead to her involvement with several groups. She primarily works as a family physician at her local community’s health center. Being in a rural location, it is the only health center for the major counties in that area. They provide medical and psychological care even to patients who do not have health insurance.

Dr. Calixte’s second job is with the Somerset County Health Department as a physician deputy. It’s her responsibility to oversee various clinics in the county. Here, she gains valuable insight into her community and how she can better serve them.

As for her volunteer work, she is an abortion provider for Planned Parenthood. She is also co-leader for the Reproductive Health Access Project in the mid-Atlantic cluster. The organization is dedicated to protecting and expanding access to abortion, contraception, and miscarriage management.

Master’s Degree in Public Health and Fellowship in Women’s Health

During her 2-year fellowship in women’s health, Dr. Calixte was also pursuing her master’s degree in public health. She had the opportunity to train with some of the best family medicine doctors and OB-GYNs. A 2-year long research project on reproductive health also kept her busy.

Her fellowship experience increased her knowledge on how to become a better women’s health care provider. In her master’s program, she learned more about the health care system and the policies surrounding it. Although it was challenging to complete both at the same time, it was well worth it to have a deeper understanding of how to initiate structural change.

Women’s Health Fellowship VS OB-GYN Specialization

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a family physician is getting to know families. It’s fulfilling to be able to deliver the patient’s children and to see them grow during visits. This kind of rapport is not something you often experience if you’re an OB-GYN specialist. Although Dr. Calixte enjoyed her OB-GYN rotation, she didn’t feel at ease being in the operating room. Her experience in OB-GYN helped her decide to pursue family medicine and a women’s health fellowship instead.

How to Advocate for Patients

The importance of voting cannot be emphasized enough. But even outside of election season, physicians can do more to advocate for their patients. Talk to legislators, senators, or local government officials. Policy makers are not usually experts in healthcare; inputs from doctors are welcome. There is a higher chance of enacting change the more we speak up about our concerns. Public officials are more likely to notice recurring issues and may even do something to address them. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

You can also start small by letting your voice be heard at your workplace. Let your supervisors or the management know about your worries. There is a greater impact if concerns are heard not only from patients, but from their physicians as well.

Dr. Calixte’s Advice to Pre-Meds and Medical Students

Becoming a doctor is no easy feat. The mantra that helped Dr. Calixte during hard times is “Faith, Focus, & Follow Through”. When you are down, have faith in yourself. Be reminded that hard times don’t last. Next, focus on your goals. Set realistic objectives that will guide your course of action. Lastly, follow through on the tasks you need to do. It may not seem like there is an end in sight, but you’ll get through it!

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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