Bringing health to low-income patients in the clinic and media
Erin N. Marcus, FACP
Occupation: Associate professor of clinical medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; author of a practical health column directed at readers who don’t have great financial resources or access to care.
Current residence: Miami, Fla.
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
Family: Husband and two kids
Medical school: University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass.
Residency: Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC.
Something I wish I’d learned in medical school: As a first year student, I found my epidemiology course to be a bit dry. After I got out of residency and started taking graduate courses, I realized how interesting and relevant the subject can be.
I became an internist because: I liked how the internal medicine attendings took the time to explain how they reached their diagnoses and decided on their treatment plan, and I just felt that I fit in best with the specialty. I was close to some elderly relatives, and saw how important their internist was in their lives.
First job: After finishing my pre-med courses (I had been a history major and decided on medicine late in my undergraduate career), I worked as a health educator by day and a stringer for a small suburban newspaper at night, covering town planning and school board meetings.
Most rewarding aspect of my job: I enjoy working with the low-income patients in our clinic, who are very appreciative of our efforts. My column is directed at readers who are in a similar economic situation. I love writing, and I think it’s important to disseminate evidence-based information in a way that readers will understand and remember.
Most meaningful professional accomplishment: I was fortunate to receive a career development award from the American Cancer Society, which has allowed me to develop a project to improve how we explain mammogram results to our patients.
Future goals: To develop my research projects in health communication, continue seeing patients in the community clinic setting, and continue to write.
Hardest medical lesson learned: Communicating effectively with patients from different backgrounds and facilitating end-of-life decision making is tough and is an area in which I am trying to improve.
Personal heroes: Harriet Tubman.
Pet peeves: As part of my research project, I am conducting focus groups with low-income women, and I am disturbed at how difficult it is to navigate the safety-net system.
Favorite ways to spend free time: Free time? Ha! Once upon a time I liked to travel; in recent years I’ve become a fan of the public library and the gym.
Favorite author or poet: Can’t pick just one, but I often recommend that my students read essays by Marjorie Williams, a writer who died of liver cancer in her 40s, and Atul Gawande. Also, my friend Gina Barreca, a feminist humorist. (No, that is not an oxymoron.)
Most recent book read: Grimms’ Fairy Tales, which I have been reading to my kids. The stories are far better than the Disney version!
Most meaningful non-medical accomplishment: Hopefully my kids, but that is a work in progress. Ask me again in 20 years.
Biggest regret: Not being better at time management—another constant work in progress.
If I weren’t a physician, I would be: A horticulturalist.
Internist Archives Quick Links
New Leadership Webinars
The ACP Leadership Academy is offering FREE webinars covering the core tenets of leadership, leadership in hospital medicine, finance, and more.
Join ACP Today!
ACP membership connects you with like-minded colleagues and provides access to a variety of clinical resources, practice tools, and ways to earn MOC and CME.