Get to Know 2017-2018 Society President Heidi White, MD, MEd, CMD

April 1, 2017
Navigating PALTC

My name is Heidi White. I am the new President of AMDA – The Society of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. I’m from Durham, North Carolina where I am an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical Center.

How did I get into this field? I think, it’s a journey for everyone and I’d say my journey started in my youth. My mother was a social worker and she always worked with the senior population. Because of that, I think I always had a tendency to really enjoy being around older adults. For a while my parents actually managed an apartment house for the elderly in our community. Six churches within the community came together to build an apartment complex and my parents managed it; we lived right in it. We lived in the retirement community, and I made money by cleaning their apartments for them, selling them greet cards. I played cards with them, I did a lot of things with older adults and I think that helped to begin my love for older adults. And then after medical school I knew I wanted to do geriatric medicine fellowship training, and I did that. I didn’t really think that I would end up in post-acute and long-term care in particular, but that’s the opportunity that presented itself when I joined the faculty, and I found it was a wonderful place to use my skills. There was a team to work with. A team of nurses and therapists, and pharmacists, and other people and I enjoyed working on that team. And the people needed my services. The patients needed my services, and so I found that it was a really wonderful environment in which to work, and to serve, and to use the training that I have.

As the Society’s new President I am most looking forward to working with a wonderful group of people. We have a wonderful Executive Director in Chris Laxton, and the staff at AMDA, the different department directors are wonderful. Everyone is so committed to what they do. And I’m also really excited about working with a wonderful group of volunteers. Members who serve on the Board, who serve on committees. It’s just wonderful to work with these highly trained professionals, who are willing to give so freely of their time and energy.

The Society’s biggest challenge in the coming year might actually be thinking about who we can become, and how we want to grow, and how we want to continue to represent this area of medical practice. So, re-conceptualizing and reinvigorating who we are. We are always going to be medical directors. But, we also want to be attending physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other professionals in this setting who want to partner with us for good care. Also, a challenge, will just be the health care environment. Right now there is so much change within the health care environment, and we need to be on top of it, and we need to be speaking into it, and making sure that we’ve got our elevator speech ready, and that people know who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

My goals for the next year really include continuing some of the efforts that are already well underway. So, continued development of our new Practice Management Section, is so important. It’s so important to our relevance for practitioners within this environment, it’s so important to grow our membership through this mechanism, and to think more broadly about our advocacy efforts. So, I’m very excited to put meat on the bones of our Practice Management Section. I’m also an educator so I’m really interested in continuing to develop some of the educational materials that we have and to see them put into use by practitioners. I’ve put a lot of effort into the Competency Curriculum that has just been completed, and so have so many other members of this organization. And, it’s really foundational, and it’s excellent, and I want to see it put into use, so I want to work in that direction as well. And, I want to work in the direction of better defining quality in our setting of care, so that the work that we do is appropriately measured and valued for our patients and their families.

Hard to say…..what do I want members to know about me. Thought I’m passionate about Duke, I can’t say I’m a big basketball fan. I try to keep up with it as much as I can. I do enjoy North Carolina. I live in the piedmont, but we also have a beautiful coast and beautiful mountains in the west. I enjoy hiking and camping, so that’s how I get away and take care of myself so that I can come back and do the work that I love and enjoy.