takes over as ABOM Medical Director

The American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) is pleased to introduce Kimberly A. Gudzune, MD, MPH, FTOS as the organization’s new medical director. Dr. Gudzune, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, succeeds Dr. Rekha Kumar, who will continue to be actively involved with ABOM in numerous capacities. Dr. Gudzune currently directs the Johns Hopkins Healthful Eating, Activity & Weight Program, which offers a variety of services to support lifestyle changes for weight loss and management of chronic disease. In her role as ABOM medical director, Dr. Gudzune’s primary responsibility is to serve as the obesity medicine clinical content and practice expert interacting with administrative staff, board members, item writing committee members, diplomates and certification candidates. Dr. Gudzune will oversee ABOM’s item writing committee, which is a volunteer committee comprised of diplomates that develops the annual certification exam.

Learn more about Dr. Gudzune’s background, interest in obesity medicine, and hopes for ABOM’s future in the Q and A below.

Why did you pursue obesity medicine certification?
Caring for and building partnerships with patients with obesity has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. I have been fortunate to be able to dedicate my clinical practice to obesity medicine for over a decade, so seeking certification in obesity medicine was a natural step that recognizes my knowledge and skill in this area. As awareness of ABOM has grown, other physicians increasingly understand the value of referring their patients to an ABOM Diplomate and patients themselves are seeking treatment from obesity medicine physicians.

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?
Rather than one moment, there was an alignment of opportunities that occurred during my fellowship that highlighted clinical research, clinical practice and medical education in obesity medicine. I ultimately decided to pursue this path because it allowed me to form partnerships with my patients to treat a disease that impacts nearly every aspect of an individual’s life. This is not just about health, but giving hope and dignity to a person who may have experienced lifelong stigma.

How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice?
While I have been practicing obesity medicine since 2010, I established in June 2020 and now direct a clinical program at Johns Hopkins – the Healthful Eating, Activity & Weight Program – that is dedicated to obesity medicine. The program is a specialty clinic within the Division of General Internal Medicine and is home to six ABOM Diplomates as well as an obesity medicine fellow. Our practice at the clinic focuses exclusively on obesity medicine. We also have two hepatologists who focus on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and two bariatric surgeons. We work collaboratively with psychology and nutrition. It has been amazing to establish this program, as it has allowed a space to develop and support obesity medicine physicians that care for patients throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable?
Certification provides several benefits to Diplomates. ABOM certification is a national hallmark of evidence-based practice in our field. In fact, a 2019 article in Clinical Obesity found in a survey of ABOM Diplomates that approximately 80% offered services concordant with obesity guidelines such as those from American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College of Endocrinology (AACE/ACE) and the Obesity Medicine Association (OMA)(Gudzune & colleagues). In addition, ABOM is a community of physicians passionate about the prevention and treatment of obesity – it is a network interested in supporting other physicians’ professional development in this area.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time as ABOM Medical Director?
As Medical Director, I aim to be an advocate for obesity medicine – raising awareness of this career pathway and ABOM certification as an important step in that process. Education, research and clinical care from across the country will be critical to continue to raise the profile of obesity medicine, as well as continuing to ensure a rigorous certification examination yearly that focuses on evidence-based obesity medicine practice. I also hope to promote the careers of prospective or early career ABOM Diplomates by fostering networking opportunities and unique activities for learning and skill-building.