MEET THE DIPLOMATE
bharti shetye, md
Bharti Shetye, MD (Dr. Abby) is a weight loss specialist certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She is also trained as a primary care physician certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Abby joined Sun Coast Bariatrics, a bariatric surgical center of excellence, as the medical director in 2016. The success of her program has been showcased by the National Association of City & Health Officials (NACCHO) in Washington DC as a “national model clinic.” She has presented at local and national meetings of the Obesity Medicine Association and the Southern Obesity Summit. Dr. Abby has two goals for all her patients – short term success to reach goal weight at present and long-term success to prevent the yo-yo pattern of weight loss and weight gain moving forward. She works passionately with recommendations toward diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes and behavioral modification to achieve both goals.
Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification?
I am an ABIM-certified primary care physician. It is my belief that primary care is a band-aid approach to long-term chronic-disease management. Working as an obesity medicine physician, I am now truly “treating” chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, and preventing the long-term consequences thereof. Getting patients off insulin and several other medications, preventing that knee replacement surgery, happy patients – priceless moments in my obesity medicine practice.
Certification as an obesity medicine physician holds me up to keep the standards of my practice to the highest level, personally and professionally, and ensures that I am up-to-date with knowledge in the field of medicine academically. Professional connections with certified obesity medicine physicians at local and national levels keeps me rooted and growing as a weight management specialist.
Many doctors have told us about the “aha” moment that stimulated their interest in obesity medicine. Do you have an obesity medicine “aha” moment that sticks out in your memory?
My 45-year-old obese diabetic male patient who was afraid of needles but had to take insulin – we worked together as a team – a 5% weight loss with lifestyle changes led to improved sugars and HbA1C, and he was off insulin. Priceless moments in the physician-patient office visit.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice?
My obesity medicine training is my holy grail. I have been practicing obesity medicine 100% of the time since 2006. I am the medical director of Sun Coast bariatrics, a bariatric surgical center of excellence. With a bariatric surgeon, a board-certified obesity medicine physician, dietician, and psychologist in office we provide complete comprehensive treatment options to decrease the burden of the obesity epidemic. I am now experienced in the care of patients with lap-bands, sleeve gastrectomies, and intragastric balloons. This position has enhanced my skills to treat morbidly obese patients. It has been a perfect marriage of the worlds of obesity medicine & bariatric surgery. In addition, I am also the medical director/owner/ practicing physician at my own private practice – Dr. Abby’s Weight Management Clinic – a “medical” weight management clinic.
Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable?
Being “certified” tells patients that this physician has gone over and above the basics of medical practice, to challenge him/herself academically to acquire additional knowledge and pass examinations thus demonstrating proficiency in the field. Additionally, it connects me with fellow obesity medicine physicians at local and national levels, brings forward mentor-mentee relationships, keeps clinical acumen at my sharpest, and keeps me abreast regarding advances in obesity medicine.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice?
Teenagers (age 16+), and their (sometimes) inflexible mindsets. Tough challenge(s) in this age group, but certainly necessary, to prevent long-term consequences of obesity.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
• The National Association of City & County Health Officials (NACCHO) in Washington DC awarded my clinic the title of “national model clinic” in 2015, based on our protocols and results achieved.
• My presentation was awarded 1st Place in the Obesity Treatment Foundation poster competition at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians Overcoming Obesity 2014 conference in Austin, TX.
What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity?
Treating obesity is the foundation of primary care and preventive medicine. All primary care physicians should pursue basic training toward the treatment of obesity and/or refer their patients to a board-certified obesity medicine physician for obesity management.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine?
Obesity medicine training is a valuable asset in the world of primary care, internal medicine and family medicine. Interns and residents in training should mandatorily undergo rotations with obesity medicine physicians to learn more regarding obesity medicine.
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