Family Nurse Practitioner Alumnus Celebrates Third Anniversary of Texas Clinic He Founded
June 23, 2020 – Since Michael Menchaca (G’15) graduated from Georgetown’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program five years ago, he founded Menchaca Family Clinic in Harlingen, Texas. In mid-July, the clinic will mark its third anniversary.
“I found myself wanting to be involved in health care from a very young age – probably around the age of 8 or 10, mostly because I connected so well with my pediatrician,” he recalled. “As I continued to mature, I really found my purpose was in helping others, and that’s what led me down the nursing career path.”
Menchaca says his father and grandfather operated their own businesses, and he had wanted to do the same for many years. “The entrepreneur bug is definitely in the family,” he said.
The Whole Person
Menchaca said he “connected with the ideals behind nursing, which involve treating the whole person and really providing individualized attention to the needs of others.”
As a new nurse practitioner, Menchaca became concerned by the “fee for service” model and its focus on “numbers, diagnoses, and treatments,” versus more individualized care and attention for each patient.
Building upon those concerns and reflecting on the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, he established a “direct primary care” (DPC) model at his clinic.
“This is a membership model that reduces my patient census from 1,500 to 400-500,” he said. “The DPC model essentially allows me to spend more time with less people to really hone in on some of the basics of establishing healthy lifestyle pattern, which in turn improves and/or reverses chronic conditions and reduces the medication burden that some patients have been placed on before coming into my care.”
Menchaca noted DPC “has been radically successful” in his experience, attributing its success to its ability to address “access to care” gaps in the state and patients’ weariness with long wait times and short patient visits. “With DPC, everyone is so much more than a number,” he said.
Clinical Faculty Advisor
Menchaca is still connected to Georgetown through his role as a clinical faculty advisor (CFA) for the FNP Program, which operates nationally in a distance format.
“I get to mentor students as they progress through the clinical aspect of Georgetown’s FNP program,” he said. “I help them apply what they learn in the classroom in the real world,” noting the latter is often more complex than a textbook may present.
He enjoys the opportunity given the educational experience he had. “The role is important to me because I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to study at Georgetown and come in touch with some amazing professors. For example, I had the honor of learning from past AANP President Dr. Joyce Knestrick. The current AANP president Dr. Sophia Thomas was actually my CFA when I went through the program. Being a CFA with the program helps me maintain a strong connection with Georgetown.”
A Second Clinic
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Menchaca said he and the clinic were able to continue seeing patients because telemedicine is already something they were set up to do. For two weeks in March, they were entirely virtual.
“We got back to work in the clinic with appropriate screening and precautions after those two weeks, and it’s been business as usual,” he said. “I’ve kept my patients up to date with my own interpretation of the COVID-19 data via emails and phone calls.” In the midst of this, Menchaca was also able to open up a second clinic.
As he looks back, the Georgetown alumnus said his education prepared him well for his career, including leading, right out of school, a Medicare-related annual wellness visit program.
“Additionally,” he said, “the network of colleagues that I have now is quite incredible. I’ve actually referred patients to fellow alumni I graduated with and vice versa across state lines as certain patients have moved into or away from my area. Now, that’s cool.”
Said Menchaca: “The bond with my fellow Hoyas is incredible.”
By Bill Cessato