Leadership

Members Move Medicine: Democratizing access to medical care

Shantanu Nundy, MD

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.

On the move with: Shantanu Nundy, MD, who is an internist in Washington, DC.

AMA member since: 2017.

What inspired me to pursue a career in medicine: As a child, I was often sick and a frequent benefactor of the ‘magic of medicine’—the healing touch and expert mind of physicians. Later in university, as a volunteer at a nonprofit in rural India, I realized how many people lacked the same access to medicine that I had and how physicians could play a role, not only as individual healers, but also as change agents. The potential to do both—serve individuals and whole populations—cemented my desire to pursue a career in medicine.

How I move medicine: In addition to practicing primary care, I work at the intersection of health care innovation and health care delivery. Over the past 10 years, this work has taken me to three different health care startup organizations and most recently the Human Diagnosis Project, which is democratizing access to medical expertise by building an open medical project of physicians and trainees in now over 80 countries.

Career highlights:

  • Started the adult medicine primary care service at Mary’s Center in Adelphi, Maryland where we care for a largely uninsured, immigrant community.
  • Served as the first director of the Human Dx Nonprofit, now the world’s largest open medical project.
  • Led the clinical innovation team at Evolent Health, a population health management company and one of the fastest health care startups to go public.
  • Developed CareSmarts, a mobile phone-based text messaging program for individuals with a chronic illness, which was adopted by the World Health Organization.
  • Authored, Stay Healthy at Every Age, a preventive health book for the lay public to increase uptake of evidence-based preventive health services.

Advice I’d give to those interested in pursuing a career in medicine: As medicine changes you for the better, be sure to also stay grounded in yourself and what matters to you. Be a human being and your best self, first. Be a doctor second.

How I give back to the community: In my clinical practice, I care for those who otherwise wouldn’t receive any care at all. In my non-clinical work, I try to inspire others to be bolder in their aspirations for themselves and for the health care system. My message is “better is possible.”

Aspect of my work that means the most: I love making a differential impact on the life of an individual patient or a system. I often ask myself, “How could I do this differently and better than others who could be in my shoes?” When I actually achieve that and leverage my unique experiences, talents, and perspectives to improve health, I know I’m truly making a difference.

My hope for the future of medicine: My hope is that we enable a health system that once and for all closes the know-do gap between what we can achieve in medicine and what we actually achieve today. If we did that, we’d take a dramatic step towards making health care more affordable and accessible for everyone.

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.