Scripps Internist and Pediatrician Shirin Alonzo, MD

I chose primary care
for many reasons. First and foremost,
because it allows you to establish a relationship
with your patients and it allows you
to see that family grow over time. So, I practice both
internal medicine and pediatrics, which is a little
bit unusual because I did have to do
two board certifications and two trainings. But what that means
is that I can actually care for patients who have
complex care needs from the moment they’re born
until the moment they die. This is important
because we can build relationships through that time
in order to improve health. But it’s also important because there’s a complex
care component to it where we can pay attention
to the details and look at
all the other determinants that affect health, which include the
social aspects of health — so where you live,
what access to food you have — where you can look at
other factors, such as what is your family history, what is your socioeconomic status, what disease did you have before, what could you potentially
have in the future? And an area of expertise
that I do have that is also a
little bit unusual is medical neurodevelopmental
disabilities. So, I actually did a fellowship
at Rady Children’s hospital for a year in the
pediatric neurology program. I’m not a pediatric neurologist but I do have specialized training in things like autism,
learning disabilities, complex care patients
with special needs, so a trach — which are
tubes to help you breathe — or g tubes — which are tubes
to help you feed. And so, I’m able to help manage patients and families
over time who have very special
types of illnesses, including genetic disorders. Really, the most important part
of any communication and any relationship is creating that
safe environment where we can
help manage ourselves, manage our families and manage our futures together. My philosophy of care
is something called the patient-centered medical home. It’s a common term
we use around now. But what it really means is
finding that provider that you can establish
a long-term relationship with within a medical system
that allows you to build all of your health care needs
in one location. And Scripps is really
a great place to do this, because there’s a lot of
administrative support and a lot of ancillary staff
and support where we can help each other
to create a safe environment and make sure our patients
are always number one. The most satisfying
part of my job is knowing that my field
is a privilege. I come home every day, really blessed to know
that I got to know someone’s intimate personal details
about their life and that my expertise
in that field allows them to have
a healthy life. So, I’m a San Diego native,
so obviously that means I love being in good weather
and I love the outdoors. So, I do hike a lot. I surf. I also do Muay Thai. So, I like a lot of active things. The more non-active things
include oil painting. So, I love doing that. And my most favorite thing
to do in the world is snorkeling with sea turtles. I hope that
my patients can expect that they are entering
an environment where they will hopefully feel
comfortable, safe, and that they will be receiving
the utmost standard of care. Knowing that I will always
ask questions and if I don’t know
an answer to a question that’s asked of me,
I will look it up and if I can’t find the answer
in that moment I will get back to my patient — making sure that all
my recommendations are of the current standards, but that if there’s anything
that I don’t know, that we’re going to
look up research together and try to make an informed decision
together as a team. Having a primary care physician
is crucial. So, a lot of times people
will only visit the doctor when they’re sick,
which is great. You absolutely should. However, visiting your
primary care doctor when there aren’t symptoms — so going and having
preventative checkups — are very important
because we can start to assess if there’s anything early
that may be popping up in your body that
we don’t know about. It also gives us
an opportunity to address other types
of issues that may be affecting your life, like stress, recent changes,
et cetera. And working together
with all these components with your primary care physician can really, really
create an optimal environment for improving health. The one thing someone can do
to improve their overall health is trying to manage the stress
in their life effectively. And if there was one other thing
that really affects every single thing
in the body it is smoking cigarettes. So, if you are a smoker,
the best thing is really to quit smoking. That would be the number one
best thing you could do for your health,
if you are a smoker. And for everybody, learning
how to manage stress in your life really can help improve
your health outcomes.

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