Member of the Month: Dustin Pratt, M.D.

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Member of the Month: Dustin Pratt, M.D.

Family physician practices full-spectrum medicine in rural Texas

posted 03.15.12

Dustin Pratt, M.D., is a family physician in Childress, Texas, population 6,500, where he practices full-spectrum rural family medicine at Fox Rural Health Clinic and Childress Regional Medical Center. He practices surgical obstetrics, provides emergency room coverage, and provides hospice care as the medical director of hospice services.

Dr. Pratt completed his family medicine residency at Texas Tech Health Science Center in 2008 where he was chief resident, and he was awarded his medical degree by Texas Tech in 2005.

Since 1998, he has gone on medical mission trips to Guatemala, Uganda, Honduras, and twice to Costa Rica. His hobbies include fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and skiing, and he is active in his church. He has a wife, Eileen, and two sons, Darren and Dylan.

Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? I chose family medicine for the diversity. I wanted to be able to care for people at all stages of their life.

What unique challenges does rural medicine present? For Childress, rural medicine has some very unique challenges. We are two hours from any large city, and the only place that practices obstetrics for over a 100 mile radius. Because of our geographical isolation, we have to be rather self-sufficient.

What is Childress famous for? Childress is the supposed home of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre and seemingly a very attractive place for tornadoes. We are also home to the Greenbelt Bowl, an all-star football game featuring the area’s top high school seniors, and home to world champion rodeo stars Roy Cooper and Stran Smith.

Have you ever had a nickname? I have had a few, but only one that can be published. It started while I was doing medical mission work in Honduras. One of the local helpers, in broken English, somehow turned Dr. Pratt into “Dr. Fot.” Because of my body habits, the name stuck.

What is the biggest opportunity or challenge you see for the specialty as a whole over the next five years? As a whole, we will have to adapt to the ever-changing medical environment. We all will have to embrace EMR technologies, overwhelming budget pressure, and even change the documentation of our daily practice. In rural medicine, I fear that there will be an ever increasing difficulty to recruit new physicians that do full spectrum family medicine.

What one-sentence advice would you give a new family physician wanting to start or join a rural practice? Find a clinic or hospital where the medical staff, hospital staff, and administration all truly support each other.

What was the best lesson you learned in residency? I learned to be a life learner. It is impossible to learn all of family medicine in three years. I learned to learn!

What is the most memorable patient care experience you have had in practice? Although delivering babies is almost always a joyous experience, I think that my most memorable is the bedside home visits that I do with my hospice service. I really get to know my patients for the wonderful people they are and the lives they have lived.

It is important for me to be a member of AAFP and TAFP because: These organizations help family medicine stay the wonderful specialty that it is today.

If you weren’t a doctor what would you want your job to be? I would be a professional angler, likely doing guided trips for trout, or possibly on the BASS tour.

What do you think makes someone a success (in medicine or otherwise)? A combination of natural aptitude, luck, appropriate guidance, and hard work!

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, nominate the physician by sending his or her name, phone number, and e-mail address to View past Members of the Month here.