Member of the Month:
Rashmi Rode, MD, FAAFP
Residency program leader and NCCL co-convener shares passion for medicine, teaching, and involvement
By Kate Alfano
Member of the Month Rashmi Rode, MD, FAAFP, works as the Associate Program Director at the Family Medicine Residency Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and finds learning and teaching essential and interchangeable. As she says, she must teach to learn, and she must learn to teach. She is passionate about service to underserved patient populations delivered in a culturally sensitive manner, and her areas of interest include women's health, evidence-based medicine, and academic medicine. Originally from India and having attended medical school and her first residency (obstetrics-gynecology) there, she represented international medical graduates at the 2021 National Conference of Constituency Leaders and in 2022 will be a co-convener. Dr. Rode is highly acclaimed, regularly receiving honors and awards for excellence in teaching and patient care, innovative ideas, and research.
Who or what inspired you to become a physician?
I was inspired to be a physician by my personal experience, when at a tender and impressionable age of 6, I required a long hospital stay and rehab. My care team was a group of loving nurses and physicians who became my role models and eventually my teachers. I understood quite early that empathy and compassion would guide my career choice, but it was not until later in medical school that I understood how medical education in general satisfied my thirst to learn and grow.
Can you briefly describe your career path? What brought you to Texas from India?
I went to medical school in India. After completing medical school, I did residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and practiced in the field in various facilities across India. Married to an Indian Armed Forces Officer, we moved every so often across the country. As our children started growing, we decided to settle down at one place and chose to move to the United States to provide better opportunities for our children. As I transitioned here, I also wanted to increase the breadth of my scope of practice and family medicine was an obvious choice. I have truly enjoyed serving patients across all ages and having full scope of practice including practicing my obstetrical and procedural skills.
What unique challenges are represented in your patient community?
After completing my residency, I chose to work with the underserved population in Harris County. Their health care needs and outcomes are largely affected by various social determinants including access to care, financial restraints, food insecurity, immigration status, poor health literacy, lack of transport, unemployment, and homelessness, to name a few. All the providers, including me, serve not only as physicians but also as patient advocates. Compassion, care, and a desire to impact change in the life and health of our patients are some of the core values of primary care. It has been an immensely gratifying experience working with this patient community, providing them high quality care, addressing all their health care needs, and impacting a change in the community.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
Teaching and learning were never segregated. I know that to teach I must learn, and to learn I must teach. I enjoyed teaching my colleagues, my juniors, and took every opportunity to educate the population I served, even as a medical student in India. Getting into academic medicine after my residency was yet another obvious choice of passion. The prospect of providing high quality patient care to underserved populations combined with the opportunity to train residents, advise medical students, and collaborate with peers on evidence-based quality improvement activities are in fact the perfect blend of service and development for me.
Can you tell me about your leadership role at the residency?
In July 2020, I accepted the role of associate program director in the Family Medicine Residency Program at Baylor College of Medicine. In this role, I find myself being challenged to stay updated with all current management guidelines, practice evidence-based medicine, and teach by setting an example. I feel blessed to be given this opportunity to mentor and advise residents to help them reach their full potential and achieve their goals and be successful.
What are your practice passions?
Having trained in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the past, I am passionate about women’s health and obstetrical care. I also lead procedure electives in primary care for medical students and provide the much-needed experiential hands-on learning opportunity to learners.
Why are you a TAFP member?
TAFP has been a platform for me to connect with like-minded peers across the state who share the passions of service, education, and advocacy. It also poses an opportunity to understand the changes across practices and institutions, collaborate with researchers, apply the ideas that made an impact, and learn with colleagues in this ever-growing field of medicine.
What led you to get involved in the National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL)?
I first learned about NCCL when I was doing my Family Medicine Leadership Experience with TAFP. I got involved in various committees and attended constituency meetings. I connected with peers and leaders who have advocated in the NCCL previously to voice the concerns of their constituents. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to represent TAFP at this year’s NCCL conference as a delegate for the IMG constituency. My experience at NCCL has been truly amazing and I am looking forward to lead as one of the co-conveners in the year 2022.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
I spend my free time with my family: my husband of 27 years, two children (now young adults), and dogs. Relaxation to me is leisure reading, listening to music, and going on long walks. We love going on long road trips as a family and connecting with nature. I knit, crochet, and embroider and love gifting handmade items as tokens of remembrance to my friends and family.
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.