Member of the Month:
Emily Sullivan Meyer, M.D.
Fourth-generation physician carries on tradition of patient care in rural Texas
Emily Sullivan Meyer, M.D., was born and raised in Hondo, Texas. She currently practices with her father and four other family physicians in a rural health clinic in Hondo, and sees patients at the same hospital where she was born. She comes from a long line of physicians starting with her great-grandfather, who opened his general practice in Hondo in 1906.
Dr. Meyer attended the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate degree, and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio for her medical degree. She completed a family medicine residency at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa in San Antonio, as well.
She is the mother to 5-month-old twin boys named John and Walter in honor of her father and grandfather, respectively, and says they are the light of her life.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? I chose family medicine because I have watched my father look forward to going to work every day for the last 37 years. As a child, it was obvious to me how much he enjoyed his work, and I loved the idea of being able to serve a community that has done so much for me. Family medicine seems like it should be the obvious choice, as literally behind every door there is something new, as family medicine is the full spectrum. It’s also ideal for a small town, as we get the pleasure of taking care of people we know and see at the grocery store.
How has medicine changed over the generations? Our family tradition began in 1906 when my great-grandfather, Dr. Henry Meyer, moved to Hondo and started his general practice. He was a horse-and-buggy doctor, and I still meet people who talk about him arriving at their homes to deliver siblings out in the country or even performing an appendectomy on someone’s kitchen table.
He had three sons: One became a dentist, and the other a lawyer/judge. The third, my grandfather, Dr. Walter Meyer, went to Tulane as he had, and moved back to Hondo where he practiced general medicine in the same office as his brother practiced dentistry. My grandfather did almost every surgery possible at that time, as few people could travel to San Antonio for medical care. I continue to hear amazing stories about him as well.
My grandfather had three sons, all of whom went to Tulane and became physicians in Texas: My father, Dr. John Meyer, a family physician in Hondo; Dr. Parker Meyer, a family physician in DeSoto; and Dr. James Meyer, an OB/GYN in Uvalde, who also sees patients in Hondo once a week. When my father moved back to Hondo, he and his older brother received a lot of training from my grandfather, which meant they were doing every surgery/procedure he could do. Things have changed quite a bit, obviously!
Do you have any childhood memories from the clinic or about your father’s impact in the community? I loved going to my dad’s office as a child. He’d let me bring in dirt from outside and look at it under his microscope. I had little patient contact, but loved getting hugs from familiar faces passing through. Not only did I admire my dad’s commitment to his patients, but I also admired his relationship with the community. Among many service organizations, he was also president of the school board for many years, just as my grandfather and great-grandfather were.
What’s the best thing about practicing with your father? Everything. We are in the same area of the clinic, so we see each other a lot. Not only is it nice to have someone with so much experience nearby, but it’s nice to see my best friend at any moment. He’s a hoot, and I couldn’t be in a better situation.
It is important for me to be a member of AAFP and TAFP because: We know we have support and someone looking out for us, which is so very important these days.
What one-sentence advice would you give a new family physician just starting out in private practice? When you have a really bad day, remember the joy you felt when you were accepted into medical school and that every day you are making a difference.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in QuickInfo 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, nominate the physician by sending his or her name, phone number, and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org. View past Members of the Month here.