“I was not born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could,” says Cristian Fernandez Falcon, MD. After completing training in both general and plastic surgery in Argentina, he moved to the U.S. and completed a family medicine residency in Corpus Christi, as well as pursuing additional training in geriatric medicine at the Carilion Center for Health Aging in Roanoke, Virginia. Fernandez Falcon then worked as faculty for a time in Norfolk, Virginia, but says that Texas was always in his heart. In 2010, he and his family definitively settled in San Antonio. He now is faculty for the Family Medicine Residency Program at UT Health San Antonio. “This has been the best job of my life,” Fernandez Falcon says.
Who or what inspired you to become a family physician?
As my career progressed and I found more joy in the complexities of clinical rather than surgical care, I sought out opportunities as a clinician. I fell in love with the idea of family practice in the U.S. one winter afternoon of 2001 while at the Biblioteca del Congreso de la Nacion in Buenos Aires, reading The Folsom Report (AMA 1966), which stated: “Every individual should have a personal physician who is the central point for integration and continuity of all medical services to his patient. Such physician will emphasize the practice of preventive medicine […] He will be aware of the many and varied social, emotional, and environmental factors that influence the health of his patient and his family. […] His concern will be for the patient as a whole, and his relationship with the patient must be a continuity one.”
What ultimately drew you to academics?
I have had the privilege of great mentors in my life, but three of them stand up above the rest. Dr. Amicucci, one of my general surgery attendings, taught me the pride of a job well done. Dr. Rick Edwards, my family medicine program director, believed in me as a clinician and literally changed my life when he decided to rank me, and I have been trying to make him proud since. And finally, all faculty and residents at the Family Medicine Residency Program, who collectively gifted me the most education and joy I could have ever asked for.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I have been a teacher since 1988, when I became an anatomy TA for the University of Buenos Aires. I have a little wooden plaque in my office that says: “I teach. What’s your superpower?” I believe there’s nothing that can surpass service of others as a life objective; that’s why I became a doctor and a teacher.
Why do you choose to be a TAFP member?
I believe it is vital to be a TAFP member; the association has proven instrumental in stablishing a clear vision for the specialty, and a consistent advocate at the Texas Legislature for many decades. An early example that comes to mind is the 1991 paradigmatic article from Sarah Hendricks, Roland Goertz, and James White: “Training Family Physicians: A Vital Element in Solving Texas’ Access to Health Care Crisis.” There are many more examples, like The Primary Care Marshall Plan of 2020, the TAFPPAC, etc.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
I have done fine arts and painting since I was an early teenager, and had the privilege of figuring out at 52, during COVID, that music is an even greater passion! So I’m working on it, breaking guitar strings in the process.
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.