MEET THE DOCTOR:
Scott Kahan, MD, MPH
ABOM diplomates come from many different fields of medicine. We often get questions about how our diplomates arrive at the decision to certify and how they incorporate obesity medicine into their practices. In this occasional series, we introduce you to ABOM diplomates who can shed light on these questions.
Please take a moment to learn more about how preventive medicine specialist and ABOM Board Member/Diplomate Dr. Scott Kahan incorporates obesity medicine into his practice.
How did you become interested in obesity medicine?
I initially became interested in obesity when I trained in preventive medicine. Preventive medicine is a field that bridges clinical medicine and public health, which fits well with obesity, which itself is both a major clinical and population-level problem. Although my interest in clinical obesity was initially focused on lifestyle medicine and nutrition, the more I learned and the more I practiced, over time my interests shifted to obesity medicine. (Of course, obesity medicine is not synonymous with either lifestyle medicine or nutrition. The latter are subsets of the broader field.)
What is your job description?
I am a practicing obesity medicine specialist. I lead a large, multidisciplinary obesity treatment center in Washington, DC. I also focus part of my career on obesity policy, public health, and advocacy.
What advice do you have for someone considering whether to become an ABOM diplomate?
Board certification is an important and universally-accepted distinction of professionalism in medicine. The rigorous board certification process requires mastery of overlapping disciplines relevant to obesity, including medical, surgical, behavioral, nutritional, and practice management. Anyone who practices obesity medicine or obesity-related care would be well served by board certification, both in the eyes of the medical community and patients.
What is the best part of your job?
Obesity medicine is a fantastic specialty that, in a sense, gives me the opportunity to be both a family doctor and a specialist. On the one hand, I treat the “whole person” and I have the privilege of building great long-term relationships with my patients, like a family doctor. On the other hand, I have a unique and in-demand specialty in which I receive referrals from a range of clinicians and get to weigh in on many interesting cases, and I have the challenge and opportunity to engage in and learn from fascinating and expanding research in this complex field of medicine.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Dealing with misinformation and misunderstanding, on the part of other doctors, the media, and society at large. Working to unwind many of the myths of obesity, and myths about people who have obesity, is a challenge, but also an opportunity to make real change.
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