UH medical student hopes to save lives after her dad, who didn't have primary care, died

Shelley Childers Image
Thursday, January 19, 2023
UH med-student hopes to save lives after dad dies from complications
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A third-year medical student said becoming a doctor has always been her dream, but being accepted into the inaugural class of 30 students, she calls divine intervention.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of Houston's Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine hopes to help solve a large shortage of primary care physicians in Texas.

Experts said the Lone Star State ranks 47th nationwide for patient-to-family doctor ratio.

"We're about 4,800 primary care physicians short," Dr. Stephen Spann, dean of the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine, said.

The school's mission, he said, is uniquely focused on this problem.

"We set out to develop a different kind of medical school with a different focus," Spann said. "We want to train more primary care physicians."

And for one student, the mission is personal.

"Getting people earlier in the course of their disease prevents some of these later complications like death, unfortunately for my father, or an advanced oral cancer for my mother," Breanna Chachere said.

A third-year medical student said becoming a doctor has always been her dream. But being accepted into the inaugural class of 30 students is something she calls divine intervention.

"I want to be a physician in this area. I'm from the Houston area. This is home. This is where I want to practice," Chachere said.

She said completing her third-year rotations at HCA Kingwood Hospital is a full circle.

"When I was a first-year medical student, my dad suffered a stroke and actually ended up being taken care of here," Chachere said.

Sadly, she said he died from complications months later.

"He didn't have a primary care doctor," Chachere, who is now also advocating for her mother, said. "(My mother) was diagnosed with oral cancer. She's scared of the dentist. She has been for her whole entire life."

The entire first class received free tuition thanks to an anonymous donation of $3 million.

They hope the donation will motivate students to practice primary care, a field that often earns less money and is less enticing for students with big debts.

"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn medicine and to do so without the financial heaviness," Chachere said.

The college's second mission is for students to practice in underserved communities where research shows there is even less access to family doctors, Spann said.

"And the evidence worldwide is that countries that have stronger primary care have better outcomes of care and lower costs of care," Spann said.

The inaugural class is set to graduate in May 2024, with at least half of the students expected to go into primary care.

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