All in the Family
Janice Riley-Burt, MD Integrative Medical Doctors, PC
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
College: Spelman College Atlanta, GA
Medical School: Meharry Medical College Nashville, TN
Internship: Dept. of Surgery, Grady Memorial Hospital, Morehouse School of Medicine
Residency: Dept. of Family Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine Atlanta, Georgia
Practicing medicine: since 2001
Lived in Nashville: for Med School then returned 2006
Board of Directors: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
How did you get started in Medicine?
Growing up in a medical family was the first introduction to my future career. My mother, three sisters, brother and I would travel with my father to annual American College of Surgeons and National Medical Association conventions throughout the country often driving in the family’s Kingwood Estate stationwagon. I was about 10 years old when my father had to have hernia surgery. I saw colorful marks on his spine in the hospital. Mom shared with me that the markings were used to guide the doctors where to place the anesthetic. That was the point when I was first drawn towards possibly becoming a doctor. Working in his office starting at the age of 12 answering phones, scheduling appointments and assisting my mother, the office manager made an impact. Although intrigued with my father being a doctor, he was so very, very busy establishing his practice. Being discouraged by his workload, I majored in Computer Science which was very short lived as I graduated with a degree in Natural Science/Health Science/ Pre-Med.
Upon graduation I was accepted into the Meharry Minority Research Center of Excellence summer program. I was involved with sickle cell research. Subsequently hired as a laboratory assistant in the Division of Biomedical Sciences, I helped with Trypanosomiasis research at Meharry Medical College under Dr. George Hill while studying for the MCAT.
Talk about your extended family’s role in medicine:
My father, born in rural Georgia, was the first college graduate and first doctor in his family. His parents had 3rd grade educations. My father graduated from Fort Valley State University, completing his degree in 3 years. While working in the science department, his former professor noticed how talented my father was at certain projects. Dr. Davis helped him apply to medical school in Georgia. He was rejected. But Dr. Davis didn’t give up. He knew of a black medical school in Tennessee and completed his application to Meharry Medical College. Dad has always said that each step on his journey to medicine, God provided someone to guide him. Mother was a TSU college student working as cashier at Otty’s grocery store at 18th (now D.B.Todd Jr. Blvd) & Jefferson. They married his sophomore year of medical school. My oldest sister was born at Meharry Hospital. Upon graduation, he completed internship in Pottsville, PA. I was born. He then enlisted in the Air force at the beckoning of my mother. Her desire was not to become a widow when he was drafted. He entered as a captain and was stationed at Lockbourne Army Airfield in Columbus, Ohio. His draft papers came two weeks later.
Trained by some of the top surgeons in the country while in the air force, he pursued a career in general surgery and completed his education at University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City and the VA Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
As a general surgeon in practice for almost forty years in Des Moines, he inspired, not only myself, but many family members to pursue careers in medicine. He held several appointments including Chief of Surgery at Iowa Lutheran Hospital, Chief of Surgery at Mercy Hospital and Adjunct Professor, Department of Surgery University of Iowa Hospital , Adjuct Professor, Iowa Lutheran Hosptial Family Medicine residency program Attending. In 2005 during Black History Month, The Des Moines Register & Tribune featured an article about my father and our family.
Currently, there are three first cousin physicians; Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Trauma Surgery; three second cousins Psychiatry resident, Internal Medicine resident and Physician’s Assistant. My oldest sister has a master’s in Public Health. My youngest sister and I are Family Medicine physicians. We tease about how we could create our own family healthcare system!
I was introduced to my husband, Rodney, 25yrs ago as a medical student while we were both teacher’s assistants for Dr Arthur Jackson in gross anatomy lectures & labs. I really took note of him in a bible study for the first time, and thought, “Wow, he is prioritizing his life in a way that is important to me.” Rodney is a board certified Anesthesiologist working as an independent contractor for Indian Lakes Surgery Center In Hendersonville,TN. He is the first doctor in his family although maybe distant relative of the late Dr. Burt in Clarksville,TN.
How do your life experiences make you a better physician?
Life experience has taught me to never give up. Having my first child at 18yrs and continuing the education process with the support of family and friends really help to build creativity, patience & endurance. I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for the concept of faith and hope when circumstances appear bleak. These experiences have caused me to be a more compassionate physician. I tend to be very optimistic although as a healthcare professional there’s a need to look at the total picture in order establish a well-rounded approach to the management and treatment of patients. My life experiences have created a passion for facilitating a space for people to find their purpose and to find the joy in the journey.
What makes your business/practice unique in our community?
I am very much patient focused. Each patient is uniquely created. What works for one may not work for the next. Yet with a patient focused, rather than disease focused approach to medicine, it makes for optimal communication, initiation of medical therapies, and self care. I find more consistently sustained positive outcomes and healthy behaviors. It is a blessing to see my patients achieve their personal goals while initiating and managing preventive and lifestyle medicine strategies.
What are your goals for your patients and practice?
My goal for patients is to optimize their health strategies, empower them initiate goal oriented self care and help them identify where they are with six key areas. These six pillars which include include diet, movement, stress management, restorative sleep, healthy community, and decrease risky behaviors (such as smoking) give a great framework for optimizing health. Then goals and strategies to reach those goals can be recommended.
What keeps you engaged when things get hard in your practice?
I focus on creative ways to improve. If something is not working then I ask myself, “how can I make this better?” It's lends for a time to create something new different and unique. Having multiple areas of interest in medicine also makes a difference.
How do you try and maintain a balanced life outside of work?
I enjoy time with my family and friends. I love to take walks with Beaux our doggie. I laugh a lot and love to sing. My faith is also foundational to all that I do.
What motivates you?
When I open my eyes in the morning and am given another opportunity to make a difference, I rejoice in what God has for me for that day.
What methods do you employ to keep improving your knowledge and experience?
The American Academy of Family Physicians has excellent resources. The American Family Physician Journal is one of my favorites. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine, American Board of Family Medicine and Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
Who are some of your medical “hero’s”?
Well ...there is was one physician who walked in humility, was very personable, focused and committed to his patients. He was such a kind and gentle person who was loved by many. He attended the top historically black medical college in the country. I would follow him, sit in on his lectures and courses in order to spend time with him. He’d even let me shadow him in surgeries. He establish an endowment at the school that gave him an opportunity to succeed. He created an annual medical conference in Hawaii 41yrs ago that continues to this day (Iowa Lutheran Hospital Winter Medical Conference). He never forgot from where he came. He gave of his time and talent to make a difference for many. I grew to respect him as a person and a professional. He made a big impact on my life. He just happened to be my dad.
GETTING TO KNOW THE DOC
Tell us about your family-
Christopher 37yrs old is a personal trainer and mechanic and lives in Iowa. He has six children and one on the way.(I’m Nanny Jan)
Chelsea is 22yrs and is a senior at Trevecca Nazarene University.
Alexander is 18yrs and a freshman at Morehouse College
My husband Rodney I have been happily married for 23 years.
Beaux Burt is our 2 year old Golden Doodle
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?
I sing, play the piano and clarinet. I also pretend to play the saxophone.
I love to watch and participate in sports with the family.
I am dedicated to my very supportive church family through prayer and fellowship.
What is your community involvement?
Meharry Medical College- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine
Nashville Symphony Orchestra -Board of Directors, Annual Fund Chair
Belmont Church- Executive Council, Lay Person
Christ Presbyterian Academy-Institute for Cultural Engagement, Board for Inquiry and Design
Multicultural Educational Programs Inc.- Board of Directors
National Alumnae Association, Spelman College(NAASC)- Nashville Chapter
Meharry National Alumni Association, Nashville Chapter, Davidson Academy- Board of Directors, Former Member
What amazing adventures have you been on?
The bike ride down Mount Haleakala Maui, Hawaii has to be top of the list.
I love all things beach.
Favorite Restaurants in Nashville?
J. Alexanders, Del Frisco, First Watch
What is one thing about you that surprises people?
My new found love of gardening surprises people.
Among your friends, what are you best known for?
I’m known to pick up where we left off no matter how long it has been and having an encouraging word.