Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dr. Charles P. Mouton hopes to build on Meharry Medical College's legacy

As senior vice president of health affairs and dean of Meharry Medical College's medical school, Dr. Charles P. Mouton leads an academic and clinical enterprise ranked among the nation's top producers of primary care doctors.
With an estimated 30 million more Americans expected to obtain insurance coverage under the health law passed earlier this year in Washington, access to sufficient primary care doctors will become even more critical.

Mouton, who joined Meharry on July 1 after a stint chairing the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Howard University's College of Medicine, spoke with health-care business writer Getahn Ward about the role of academic health centers in meeting that supply-and-demand challenge. He also discussed what he sees as the importance of maintaining a diverse labor force of doctors in the United States to deliver care.

How did you end up choosing family medicine as a specialty?

When I grew up in New Orleans, my exposure to medicine was through having a family doctor. I decided to go to Howard University, and I majored in mechanical engineering.

I finished mechanical engineering and entered Howard Medical School. I originally thought I wanted to be a surgeon mainly because one of the faculty leaders there was probably one of the most dynamic individuals in the surgery community, even to this day, and I wanted to be just like him.

I didn't really get exposed to family medicine until late in my senior year, and I had actually already matched to surgery. Once I started to get into my training program, I discovered that wanting to have my own patients was of primary importance for me. So, I switched out of surgery to go into family medicine. I wanted to have the opportunity to engage in these (patients') lives.

And although surgery was fun — and I was good at it — it is basically a sub-specialty where you rely on referrals, and you don't have the chance to make an intense connection as you do with family medicine.

(2 of 4)

Hospitals reach out to suburbs for outpatient dollars