Meet Dr. Hannah Herman, National Family Medicine Resident, Washington, DC

As a second-year resident in The Wright Center’s National Family Medicine Residency, Dr. Hannah Herman delivers quality healthcare to patients in Washington, DC. Recently, Dr. Herman signed a contract with Unity Health Care to continue working with the Community Health Center after graduation. She believes that The Wright Center has helped her become not only an experienced physician, but also an advocate for those without a voice in the healthcare system. “Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I am in Washington, DC, but The Wright Center has opened my eyes to advocacy opportunities,” she says. “Through leadership training and lectures on how to be an advocate, I have become much more confident in making my voice be heard.”

Hometown: Largo, Florida

Family: I live with my husband of two years, Brian Herman. I have one sister and both of my parents are in the medical field.

What led you to The Wright Center? My husband and I both went to GWU and loved DC, and we always wanted to get back. When it came time to look for Family Medicine residencies in DC, The Wright Center fit the bill for its focus on medical care for underserved, urban, Spanish speaking populations.

What led you to study Family Medicine, specifically in a Community Health Center (CHC) setting? I grew up athletic and was always very aware of anatomy, physiology and the relationship between the two. Being a type-A person, I was sure that I was going to be a female orthopedic surgeon and smash that glass ceiling! Nearing the end of college, I decided that I did not want to go directly into medical school. I applied for and was accepted into a program called Somos Hermanos, a language and cultural immersion program in Guatemala organized through USC, and after graduation jetted off to Guatemala for six months.

My time in Guatemala opened my eyes to the fact that healthcare is not available for all when it is needed. We were warned that much of what we were going to see would make us want to change everything, but the biggest change we were going to see was in ourselves as we gained a deeper understanding of Spanish, other cultures and collaboration. I returned to the US (with new Spanish speaking skills) and began to realize that these health disparities were right here in my own back (and front) yard! As I progressed through medical school, I fell in love with Family Medicine and the Community Health Center/Patient Centered Medical Home model. From that point forward, I knew that Family Medicine at a Community Health Center was my calling.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as a physician in a Community Health Center? Having the opportunity to provide quality healthcare to the people in my community and gaining their trust to do so.

What inspired you to accept a position at Unity Health Care following residency? Often in a residency, patients bounce from provider to provider every three years as a new class graduates, and I wanted to be able to stay with my patients. I also love the mission of Unity Health Care and I always look forward to a clinic day. If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Advice for new residents in a CHC setting: Learn from your patients and get involved in your community. It enhances your residency experience and allows you to not only learn medicine, but how to be an effective physician.

What is your favorite part about working in Washington, DC? The culture! My clinic is largely Spanish speaking, with a large portion of Ethiopian individuals as well as a number of other cultural groups. The different groups bring life and variety, brains and skills to our community. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be? Probably a registered dietitian, working in communities with families and youth to promote healthy lifestyles.

Who is your inspiration, personally or professionally, and why? This sounds SO cheesy, but I’m going to say that my family is my inspiration. My dad worked so hard while I was growing up to take care of his patients critically ill with cancer, yet still was around for ballet recitals, track meets and teenage meltdowns. My mom, who by example taught me the meaning of servant leadership, knows how to fix anything (with grace) and cooks a delicious veggie meal. Finally, my sister, who got over her fear of change to move to NYC and pursue her love for publishing.

Can you share something that would surprise people about you? I have a few! I am a third generation physician. My great uncle and grandpa, father and I all went to KCOM. I competed in triathlons growing up, and actually won a second place medal in my age group once. I was also pretty serious about ballet and spent every summer of high school at ballet intensives including companies such as The Rock, ABT, Orlando Ballet and Atlanta Ballet. I thought about becoming a professional ballerina, but decided on medicine instead.

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