February 2020 Member of the Month
Member of the Month:
Cynthia C. Brinson, MD
Austin family physician blazes her own path in medicine, public health
By Kate Alfano
Cynthia C. Brinson, MD, is a family physician in Austin and the 2019 recipient of the TAFP Public Health Award. Brinson has dedicated her entire professional career addressing the HIV epidemic through clinical research and evidence-based clinical care including prevention, screening, and treatment. She amplifies her work by providing educational lectures to colleagues and teaching residents and medical students.
Brinson was instrumental in forming the HIV Study Group at Blackstock Family Health Center in 1992. The group, now known as Central Texas Clinical Research, continues to be a productive community-based clinical research organization. Many medications that are now the standard of care for the treatment of HIV, Hepatitis B and C were studied by the group prior to approval for use.
In 2017, she helped open Kind Clinic with Texas Health Action after years of operating part-time out of her own clinic. It’s the first full-service nonprofit clinic in Central Texas to provide access to free STI screening and treatment and HIV pre- and post-exposure medication for those at risk of contracting HIV. She and her colleagues have provided risk reduction service for approximately 25,000 members of the community.
Residents rotate through the clinic to improve their skills and comfort. Due to the success of the rotation, Brinson will be a mentor for the newly created HIV Distinction Track within the UT Dell residency program in Austin, training the next generation of family doctors to promote public health through infectious disease prevention, screening, and treatment.
Who or what inspired you to become a physician?
I always wanted to be a physician. My parents were older, and this was unthinkable for them. They said that girls cannot be doctors. As my schooling drew to a close, I truly realized that I had to move forward with my hope for the future; I studied hard and was accepted into medical school. I am glad I did.
What gives you the most joy in your day-to-day professional life?
My joy comes from making a difference either in a patient’s life or our community’s health and wellbeing.
What drew you to public health?
I think that the need of the individual patients drew me into my care interests, and the need of the Austin community drew me to try to improve the health of patients and the community on a larger forward-thinking scale. And I knew I could make an impact, and potentially change the course of health in Austin.
What advice would you give to medical students or family medicine residents about their future careers?
My advice would be, do not let others tell you who you are or what you can and should do. It’s a huge, wonderful field where a physician can learn and do anything over his or her career. It is a boundless opportunity if one can just think outside the box, and not always believe the dissenters.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
I love my friends and I love to see them, eat and travel. I also love to cook and like to feed people. I think at this point, I also feel I want to more of a homebody and enjoy my life.
What else would Texas family physicians enjoy knowing about your unique “brand” of medicine?
That I am not alone, and neither are they. That if you do the right thing, that is all that matters. No matter how difficult it can be or how criticized one is, you must follow our oath to our patients and our community, and always work for their best interests and for overall good health and care.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.