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Serving the Underserved in Family Practice and Research

Jonathan Choi began his medical career working as an EMT and a pharmacy technician at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas. He graduated with a BS in Biology and Psychology from Houston Baptist University and entered the Emory PA Program in 2006. While a student, he volunteered at the Good Samaritan Clinic multiple Saturdays, and spent weeks at the South Georgia farmworker heath project caring for migrant workers field side. Attracted by primary care and a mission to the underserved, Jon began work with the West End Medical Center, a community health clinic near Atlanta, after graduation in 2008, providing family practice care to a diverse population of children and adults. Jon manages the clinic with a great deal of autonomy, but has physician back-up when needed. A typical day may consist of evaluating sick children, or adults with chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Jon states “my job is hard, but at the end of the day I always feel that I am seeing people who would not otherwise have access to healthcare.  I see the people who clean your homes and offices, serve your food, and build your homes.  Working where I do is helping to make a difference in my patients' lives and improving the communities they live and work in.  I'm glad to make a difference and contribute to my community.”

In 2010 Jon  became the part time PA team member for an NIH funded Emory study, titled “Improving Primary Care in Patients with Mental Disorders.”  Jon, a nurse case manager and research assistant provide primary medical care to a randomized group of mental health patients in the Community Mental Health Center where they receive their psychiatric treatment. The goal of the study is see if cardio-metabolic outcomes can be improved for mental health patients by making the county health center become a "medical home" that is accessible in the mental health clinic. Jon and a nurse care manager serve as a primary care team, providing ongoing medical care and case management using the latest Information technology, including PDA electronic guidelines. Charting and communication using electronic medical records (EMRs) are used to facilitate high quality of care within, and collaboration across, the two organizations.  The intervention will last 1 year.

Jon enjoys participating in the research project as it affords time and resources to a population that needs frequent medical follow-up. The study allows Jon to provide primary care and utilize the latest in medical informatics to keep updated. Sharing his time with an underserved patient population is why Jon became a PA and is a major reason why he choose Emory for his education.


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