Stephen Finney, MD, MS is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. He graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences then subsequently obtained a Master in Science at Mississippi College. Dr. Finney earned his Doctor of Medicine at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. Following medical school, he completed his residency in Family Medicine at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, where he served as Wellness Director. He is board-certified both by the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Obesity Medicine. He is a member of the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians, and Obesity Medicine Association. He currently works as a Primary Care Obesity Medicine Physician at Southcoast Health in North Dartmouth, MA and works closely with medical students as Clinic Preceptor with Brown University.
Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification? As I trained as a resident in Family Medicine in Louisiana, the extent of knowledge about obesity was narrowed down to “eat less and exercise more”. I have always had a strong interest in both nutrition and exercise, however, always wanted a deeper education in obesity medicine. Once I discovered that there was an official certification one could earn, I immediately pursed it.
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? Toward the end of my training when I became tired of prescribing countless medications to chronically ill patients. I noticed a pattern of covering up symptoms of insulin resistance with band-aids. My attending introduced me to the field and I knew I wanted to expand my knowledge.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice? I am traditionally trained in Family Medicine. After earning my certification in Obesity Medicine, I worked with my administration to create specific slots solely for weight loss. I can fortunately say I am about 50/50 Primary Care/Obesity Medicine. I take on not only my own patients but also my clinic colleagues’ patients as well. Even if a patient is not classified as weight loss, I am an advocate of counseling about lifestyle: diet, exercise, and meditation/mindfulness.
Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable? I think earning the obesity medicine certification makes me unique in a sense. It shows that I have thorough understanding of obesity and that I am credentialed to help those in need. It helped me build a foundation on how to counsel my patients and treat the underlying causes of obesity rather than just the symptoms.
What is your greatest success story so far? Honestly, for me, it is the small victories I achieve with my patients such as: being able to run again, fitting into that wedding dress, regaining self-confidence, lowering the HbA1c, and not being embarrassed when they look in the mirror.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice? Currently, the nationwide shortage of GLP-1’s. However, it keeps the field interesting, because I need to get creative with the oral medications!
What do you wish other physicians knew about treating obesity? To decrease stigmatism in the field of medicine. You cannot fix obesity with just “eat less and move more.” It is a multifactorial, chronic, complex, and relapsing condition that requires valuable time. It is not the patient’s fault. Serve as an advocate and be an advocate for your patients.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine? My obesity medicine visits are truly special. It brings great joy helping patients achieve their goals. It is also an ongoing learning experience, and the field is ever-growing.