When Julia L. Martin began medical school at the University of Minnesota, she thought she wanted to be an OB/GYN. But after she helped deliver the babies, she decided to learn more about them. And her curiosity didn’t stop there.
“Then it went on to learning about children. Then I learned about taking care of their parents and then taking care of the grandparents,” says Martin, a primary care physician with Eisenhower George and Julia Argyros Health Center in La Quinta. “So, family medicine turned out to be the best fit.”
In addition to caring for patients of all ages (part of why family medicine has been dubbed “womb to tomb”), Martin gets to touch on just about every aspect of healthcare, which might be acute problems like belly pain or an injury or orthopaedic issues like a bad knee. Preventative health, however, is also a big part of her practice.
“Screening for cancers, checking on their immunizations. I also follow them for chronic diseases, such as diabetes [and] hypertension.”
And one of the most common chronic medical issues facing Americans today is obesity. Martin helps many of her patients tackle weight loss through a variety of strategies, including providing them with basic information on proper nutrition, connecting them with dieticians, and perhaps most important, offering encouragement and frequent follow-up.
“We keep them motivated, and hopefully they can continue to lose some weight,” she says.
That weight loss can lead to a plethora of medical benefits, from controlling diabetes to lowering cancer risk to relieving joint pain.
“We all need to learn how to eat better. If we do that, even though it sounds so simple, we would help control our chronic medical problems or maybe even reverse them,” Martin says. “Even now, we are suspecting that changes in diet help us reverse dementia and help with our thinking.”
In equally good news, it turns out healthy living can be contagious. That means when she helps a patient get on the right track, she might be helping others she’s never even met. Case in point: an overweight patient who was struggling with high blood pressure along with back and knee pain. Martin helped her make small, gradual changes on a monthly basis. The results were promising.
“She felt better about herself. She had lost weight. She became more active. She became more engaged with her family, and her family ended up doing similar activities, such as changing what they ate, going to the gym, and riding their bicycles,” says Martin, who stays active herself as an avid tennis player in addition to being a mom to two teenagers. “It really helped keep me focused that this is the right thing to do. I can help one person in the family, and it really spreads out to all of them.”
VIDEO: Dr. Julia L. Martin speaks about her passion for family medicine practice.