gule-rana masood, md
Dr. Masood currently resides in Paradise Valley, Arizona and practices at the Phoenix Veterans Administration Health Care System as an Attending Physician. Some of her responsibilities include her role as a Physician Champion for the VA’s MOVE! Weight Management Program, teaching medical students, residents, and fellows, and creating the Phoenix VA’s new Medical Bariatric Clinic. She is incredibly passionate about serving our nations’ veterans, and has dedicated part of her medical career to researching and spreading awareness regarding the obesity epidemic. Aside from medicine some of her hobbies include traveling, exercising, architecture, and spending time with her wonderful husband and two amazing children.
Why did you decide to pursue ABOM certification? I have always believed that living at a healthy weight is an important component of healthy living. And so, when I heard about this certification, I felt compelled to pursue it.
The obesity medicine certification allowed me the opportunity to become an expert in this field and empowered me by increasing my confidence, knowledge, and training in relation to the subject matter.
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 mind? I like to look at medicine and medical trends through the lens of my patients. So, while there was no true “aha” moment for me, my 30 years of medical experience stimulated my interest in obesity medicine because working with my patients helped me realize that this was an aspect of medicine that needs more attention.
Obesity was not always considered a disease, but it was a topic that I always counseled my patients on because I believe in the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy and exercise were just some topics I discussed with my patients, and I saw that our discussions led to them improving their overall health and that they were satisfied with their changes. It was heartwarming to say the least, and the happiness I felt from serving them grew my interest.
As a diplomate, I have continued working with my patients to help them achieve their goals through using other modalities such as FDA approved medications, specific diet plans, and specific exercise plans. Their life-changing experiences continue, and each and every day my interest in obesity medicine is stimulated by their progress.
How do you currently incorporate your obesity medicine training into your practice? I believe that obesity medicine should be a specific sub-specialty where patients can get comprehensive help so that they may healthily lose weight and then maintain this weight loss.
With that in mind, I have been fortunate enough to utilize my status as a “Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine” for the purpose of running an obesity medicine clinic at the Phoenix VAMC that helps motivated patients with weight loss. We are a team of dieticians, psychologists, pharmacists, nurses, fitness therapists, and physicians that take a holistic approach to the medical practice.
Working for the VAMC has given me the structure, organization, and platform to offer these services in an efficient and effective way. These services are covered by the VA and that does make it easier for me to incorporate my obesity medicine training into the practice. And of course, it is an honor to serve our country’s veterans because it is a specific subset of our population that takes great pride in their health.
Lastly, I would like to mention that there is no quick fix for obesity and just like other medical illnesses it requires chronic supervision and management. This is something that I am mindful of daily, and it helps direct my approach to obesity medicine guiding it in a concerted fashion.
Why do you believe obesity medicine certification is valuable? I could speak on this topic endlessly as it is one of my biggest passions.
However, for the sake of brevity, I would just like to say that the obesity medicine certification is a comprehensive program that trains physicians in medical management, disease pathophysiology, and more leading to an extensive understanding of obesity.
I firmly believe in the knowledge that this certification provides. By improving our knowledge of all diseases impacted and affected by obesity, along with a deeper understanding of obesity itself, we can work on a disease that is prevalent throughout our population, but not yet fully understood. That in itself makes the certification valuable because it empowers physicians to “stretch” and explore an avenue of medicine that needs an organized, comprehensive, and dedicated approach.
Therefore, it helps us do what we came into medicine to do: serve our patients and help them with their health.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your practice? Time. As I mentioned above, obesity is not a quick fix. Each individual has a specific set of needs that have to addressed and taken into consideration. As all of you know, there is a constant struggle in medicine that stems from our attempts as clinicians to provide adequate time to each and every patient.
Furthermore, many approaches to obesity medicine are lifestyle changes. Having the time to educate and empower patients to make these changes is hard, as everyone has a specific quotient of time necessary for these changes to be accepted. How they utilize this knowledge outside the clinic is critical to their success with the disease, and I do find it challenging to provide the time necessary to empower each patient so that they can do this adequately.
However, I will say that working at the VAMC has helped me with this challenge considerably.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievement in regards to obesity medicine is Rochester Medical Weight Loss (RMWL). I established RMWL in Rochester, New York and it was the first medically supervised program in the area. I am proud to say that is helped many people with their weight loss journeys.
However, I firmly believe that the best is yet to come. In 2018, I was fortunate enough to move to Arizona where I now work for the Phoenix VAMC. Since starting here I have become a “Move Physician Champion”, and I have developed an obesity weight management clinic which I hope leads to the creation of a Department of Obesity Medicine.
What do you wish other family physicians knew about obesity? My wish is simple: Obesity is a disease and not a “failure” or “weakness” of our patients. So, please take that into consideration and treat obesity like you treat any other disease.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with obesity medicine? Obesity is an epidemic in the United States of America and when diet and exercise fail we can use certificates and titles like the “Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine” as a springboard to come together and brainstorm ideas so that we can effectively advise and treat obesity. Medicine is the ultimate team sport and obesity medicine is no different. My experience with obesity medicine is that the best treatments stem from discussing and working with all sorts of clinicians.
Furthermore, I have seen that even a 10 percent weight loss may improve many diseases and the quality of life of our patients. Something is always better than nothing.
Additionally, we now have a handful of useful FDA approved medicines that can be used to treat patients struggling with obesity. There are established approaches and protocols that I encourage you all to look into.
Lastly, my experience has taught me not to stop treating a patient after they have reached their goal weight because they may regain the weight they lost without our help.
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