Katherine Pannel, DO: Fierce advocate for mental health care

Katherine Pannel, DO

The AMA “Members Move Medicine” series profiles a wide variety of doctors, offering a glimpse into the passions of women and men navigating new courses in American medicine.

AMA Moving Medicine magazine

Each issue celebrates members making a difference in the exam room and in the medical profession as physicians, researchers, advocates and leaders.

On the move with: Sarah Katherine Gantz-Pannel, DO (@dameofdementia), who goes by Katherine, is a psychiatrist at Right Track Medical Group in Oxford, Mississippi. Dr. Pannel is actively involved in the AMA Ambassador Program.

AMA member since: 2003.

What inspired me to pursue a career in medicine: I knew at a very young age that I wanted to have a job that allowed me to help people. I also discovered that I am the type of person who needs a career that will always challenge me and keep me curious. Those reasons, combined with my love of science, made medicine the perfect career for me.

How I move medicine: By being a fierce advocate for mental health care. I am a constant presence at the state capitol fighting for legislation to improve mental health care. I will continue to fight for and talk about mental health until the stigma surrounding it is gone because #MentalHealthMatters.

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Career highlights: I have been honored to be elected to the board of both the Mississippi State Medical Association and Mississippi Osteopathic Medical Society. Most recently, I was an integral part of getting legislation passed to get more psychiatrists to rural areas in Mississippi. I was then elected to the board of the Mississippi Rural Physician Scholarship Program.

I also proudly serve on the board of the Physician Health Monitoring Program. But I think the thing that I am most proud of is being voted “Oxford’s best psychiatrist”—that’s because the community and patients voted for the honor.

Advice I’d give to those interested in pursuing a career in medicine: Medicine is a calling. It is not the easiest career, but it is no doubt the most rewarding.

How I give back to the community: I will always advocate and fight for patients to be able to get good mental health care. I will continue to fight for parity in mental health care by being a constant presence at the state capitol and keeping constant communication with legislators and organizations that influence mental health care.

In addition, I am a loud voice in communities and on all social media platforms to end the stigma surrounding mental health. I have given talks at conferences in the community to speak on the importance of self-care and mental health.

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Aspect of my work that means the most: I want patients to have access to quick and affordable mental health care. This is something that has been lacking in Mississippi for quite some time. Opening my psychiatry practice and seeing it expand all over Mississippi is something that makes me incredibly proud. I love seeing patients get good mental health care they need and deserve.

My hope for the future of medicine: That there will be more focus on the importance of the patient-physician relationship instead of checkboxes on a computer to satisfy measures. I also hope that medicine will always be physician-led.

Visit MembershipMovesMedicine.com to learn more about other AMA members who are relentlessly moving medicine through advocacy, education, patient care and practice innovation, and join or renew today.