carol penn, do
Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification? I pursued obesity medicine certification because I believed that becoming a diplomate has afforded me the opportunity to really know the science behind energy metabolism and that is how I have come to think of obesity medicine. Understanding both the genetics, epigenetics, molecular science and neuroscience that regulate our energy metabolism pathways has been both fascinating and useful in approaching any and all individuals that make up my very diverse patient populations.
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 obesity medicine ‘aha’ moment came when I realized how much behavioral health was a cornerstone in the practice of obesity medicine. It was a perfect opportunity for me to integrate my expertise in Mind Body Medicine modalities with the emerging science of obesity medicine. I felt like I had discovered home as a physician and that I could make a contribution to this emerging field.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice? I practice obesity medicine with two medical offices:
1) As a Family Medicine Physician with a large federally qualified heath center and
2) Part time with an Obesity Medicine Specialty Office, a cash-based office that offers comprehensive care following the guideline of the Obesity Medicine Association: Nutrition, Physical Activity, Behavioral Health, and Medications.
Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable? Obesity Medicine certification is valuable because we are truly able to help our patients help themselves. It is empowering to both the physician and the patient to see transformation and health outcomes improve so drastically. What we do in obesity medicine enhances the bond between physician and patient creating a reciprocal integrated relationship that is inspirational and meaningful to both.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice? The biggest challenge in the FQHC is time and limited resources and the biggest challenge in the cash-based private practice is barriers to accessibility for those who can’t afford the service.
What has been your greatest achievement so far? My greatest achievement so far in obesity medicine has been the Mind Body Medicine groups I facilitate through one of the practices. Participants are able to take a deeper dive and discover mind body connections through a variety of practices such as meditation, yoga, QiGong, journaling, etc. that help to create a mindset that not only sustains weight loss but helps them to optimize health and well being.
What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity? I wish other physicians understood it as a complex chronic disease process. I would recommend that they make the time to take an obesity medicine introductory course to learn how to discuss obesity with their patients and how to refer to an obesity medicine specialist so we can work together to give our mutual patients the best opportunity for healthy and long lives.
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