Physician Teah Martin Bayless '97, a resident at Duke University Medical Center in the Department of Community and Family Medicine, is part of an innovative program that trains family doctors to be community leaders. "It's an interesting way of thinking further about barriers to health care," she says. "It's community-minded and community-engaged." The program teaches preventive strategies, instead of simply telling a patient that he or she is overweight, Bayless explains. With a current group of severely diabetic patients, for example, Bayless says the residents talk with them at length about their lives. "Some of them can barely afford to put food on their table, so we link them up with the local food bank," she says. "It's a nontraditional approach that is aimed at solving problems, not just identifying them."
Growing up in South Boston, Virginia, Bayless always knew she wanted to study medicine and help people. Hollins' small science classes and caring professors made a critical difference. "Hollins faculty members are some of your best cheerleaders," she says. Before going to medical school, she worked for the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and the YMCA. "All of this work was community-minded, and it actually prepared me for medical school later on," she says. "Now I have a different level of maturity and experience, and I can see the big picture." Her goal now, she says, is to blend medicine and community outreach.
In addition to managing the challenges of medical school, Bayless is also the mother of triplets, born in September 2011.