Former AFMRD Board Resident Representative Natasha Bhuyan, MD
— A Rising Star in Family Medicine
It’s been just over a year since our past AFMRD Board Resident Representative Natasha Bhuyan, MD, completed her residency and a fellowship -- and she’s already playing a strong role in family medicine. Not only is she a practicing family physician but is also a district medical director, an assistant professor, and holds several state and national leadership positions.
In the Clinic and In the Classroom
A few months after starting practicing at One Medical Group (Biltmore) in Phoenix, Arizona, Bhuyan was asked to step into the role of office medical director. Seven months after that, she became the district medical director.
Today, in addition to seeing patients in the Biltmore office, Bhuyan is responsible for overseeing four offices. In this role she is involved in high-level discussions that impact patient care through practice management. “I’ve learned it is important to know all the stakeholders. They shape how we provide care. We can make effective change only when know all factors that influence care,” she said.
Bhuyan is also an assistant clinical professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “Academic medicine is a place where I feel a lot of change happens,” said Bhuyan. She is enjoying teaching medical students. As for working in a residency program, she knows she will need a lot more patient care experience before considering teaching resident physicians. “Right now I am focused on health care delivery, coordinating care, and practicing high-value care.”
AFMRD Board Experience
Bhuyan points out that some of the opportunities she has had opened up for her because of her involvement on the AFMRD Board of Directors, where she served two terms. For example, she currently is a national advisor for Family Medicine for America’s Health. “Those at Family Medicine for America’s Health came to know me as a member of the AFMRD Board,” she said. “Initially they invited me to be a resident representative for the Insight Group. After residency, they contacted me to serve as a national advisor.”
Of her experience on the AFMRD Board, Bhuyan said, “The AFMRD Board demonstrates the power of collaboration with diversity,” she said. “The board includes a range of backgrounds and experiences -- rural, urban, academic. There are some great discussions with varying views. Ultimately, the group always puts residents, patients, and faculty first.”
It was Steve Brown, MD, Bhuyan’s program director, who urged her to run for the AFMRD Board of Directors. Brown is now an AFMRD Board member himself, elected in 2016.
Bhuyan credits Brown for encouraging her in many ways. “I was always interested in the underserved and in advocacy,” she said. “Dr. Brown did his best to give me opportunities in these areas. He went above and beyond to make sure I explored the areas I was passionate about.”
Serving the Underserved
Bhuyan’s interest and involvement in health care delivery began even before medical school. After earning a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Arizona, she served in AmeriCorps, where she worked with homeless patients. As for her decision to go into family medicine, Bhuyan said, “Throughout medical school, I saw the social determinants of health and realized family physicians had the greatest opportunity to have an impact on the community.”
Bhuyan notes that changing societal factors changes society’s health. “People now have greater access to insurance but might not have access to care,” she said. She has passion for serving vulnerable populations, low income, and other marginalized groups. She has long been interested in serving such populations, particularly the LGBT community. “The LGBT community has felt marginalized. I have many from this community in my care now.”
Bhuyan believes good residency programs are those that create a culture of getting involved, appreciating the diversity of residents, and fostering residents to grow beyond their best. As for what she would advise residents, she said, “Residency is what you make of it. It’s easy to stay in the background. You need to get involved in the areas you want, be it leadership, advocacy, or something else.”
Now that she is teaching, Bhuyan reflects on the faculty members who inspired her. “I always admired those who challenged me to strive beyond what I thought was my best,” she said. “Learners sometimes label themselves as what they can and can’t do well. There are times when a teacher can take a learner’s weakness and turn it into a strength or even a passion.” She gives an example: During her residency, she felt she was not very good at skin procedures. But she had an attending who encouraged her to excel at skin procedures; and she did. Now, she’s the only one in her office who performs skin procedures and is grateful to have the skill.
Bhuyan feels her residency experience prepared her in clinical areas; however, one area she realizes she now needs to learn more about is the business side of medicine. She said, “One month of practice management during residency looks different than it does in an outside setting. It’s not an area that residents get to dive in deeply.”
“I realize being a program director is a rigorous job and can be lonely. Program directors might not realize they have powerful influence. They shape the doctors who care for thousands of patients and influence communities,” Bhuyan said. “I owe so much to my own residency director.”