Clinician Spotlight: Pamela Chung

Dr. Pamela Chung, the Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Texas, first learned about Reach Out and Read in a rural health center near the Texas panhandle. She had done her medical school training and her residency in family medicine in Canada, then moved to Texas and found herself at a clinic where her practice was about 50 percent children. One of her colleagues, an NP who was familiar with ROR, told her: “You’ve never heard of ROR; you’re from Canada; I need you to do the online training so we can sign up for it.” Reach Out and Read gave Dr. Chung a new model for how to relate to the families she cared for, creating bonds with the child, the parents, the whole family. “It turned into a really lovely relationship with the families. We based our interactions on talking about the times kids were in their laps, how they were relating, how the family was doing.”

After three years at that clinic, Dr. Chung moved to Houston; she is now Associate Program Director of the Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. Bringing ROR to that residency clinic became her pet project, and she was able to get the program up and running within her first year there. This year, the clinic celebrated giving out their 3000th book.

Dr. Chung has enjoyed lobbying at the state capital as ROR Medical Director for Texas: “I get to take a passion project and explain how it relates to legislative work — and I’ll step out of my comfort zone to go to the capitol for a day because it is a passion project.” She speaks with enthusiasm about the diversity of practices in Texas and of the skill that Affiliate Director Jocelyn McConnell, MEd, has shown in bringing such a large state together.

She is also passionate about crafting — sewing, cross stitch, quilting — and gets together with fellow physicians from all specialties to make small pieced quilts for NICU babies.

As a family physician, Dr. Chung is often the doctor for the parents and family members as well as the child. She reflected on one family: She cared for the pregnant mother, partnering for prenatal visits with the physician who would handle the delivery. She also gave the mother a book and talked with an older sibling. Dr. Chung said that books “make such a comfortable way to ask about the whole family, without changing focus — it all just seems to roll together: I remember when you were reading to baby in the womb. It becomes a shared memory with the whole family, but it also opens discussion about the family: to ask mom how her mental health is or how the older sibling is integrating.” That’s her family medicine perspective on Reach Out and Read — that it offers a comfortable way to discuss the family structure and to think about the ways that other people fit into the family environment, all centered around books and reading