Specialty Secrets: Internal Medicine/Obesity Medicine

Name: Dr. Cheryl A. Sarmiento, MD

Specialty: Internal Medicine/Obesity Medicine

Undergraduate degree and university attended: BS in Medical Technology at Far Eastern University in Manila, Philippines

Medical school attended: Far Eastern University in Manila, Philippines

Residency program completed: Internal Medicine Residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois (now John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County)

Why did you choose your specialty?: I sort of stumbled into it, out of curiosity. I found it to be intellectually challenging.

What is one thing about your specialty that you would change, if given the opportunity?: That change has already happened. In 2001, I decided to start my own ‘practice of tomorrow’ by blending traditional medical practice with innovative ideas, technology, and compassion.

Where do you currently work?: Private Practice – Doctor for Life. According to the website:

Doctor for Life was founded with one simple vision: to provide a comprehensive wellness and treatment center that forgoes “one-size-fits-all” treatment plans and instead, develops customized strategies that help patients live a healthy life. Doctor for Life’s services include general internal medicine as well as a doctor-guided, patient-centered program that helps patients achieve weight loss and a healthy weight lifestyle.

What are your daily tasks in your work place?:

I’ve been in practice as an internist for over 20 years. The most common medical problems that I see, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke and even cancers – are linked to carrying excess weight and obesity. We now consider obesity as a chronic disease; it has become a global epidemic. Despite advances in medicine, these chronic diseases are here to stay, and future generations will face greater problems and die younger than we do today.

It’s very challenging to lose weight. This is not due just to overeating or lack of exercise; it’s more complex than that. We need a supportive team of health professionals to help treat this dreadful disease. At Doctor for Life, we are a doctor-guided, patient-centered medical practice. We use the 4-prong approach to treatment:

  • First, it starts with the doctor to do a comprehensive medical evaluation to identify risk factors. We properly assess the patient, interpret lab results, and develop a plan of treatment to address the root cause of the problem.
  • Secondly, nutrition is important. Food is medicine, but sadly for some people, medicine is their food. We have a Registered Dietitian to develop meal plans for individual patients. We also have culinary chefs who not only help prepare healthy foods, but to make them taste good too. We also have an organic and sustainable farm to supply our kitchen with fresh seasonal vegetables.
  • Third is exercise. There is evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of serious illnesses. As we grow older, our joints become stiffer and less flexible. Motion is lotion; being active makes you agile and strong. We have personal trainers to guide and supervise our patients to ensure safety and avoid injuries. Most of all, they make exercise fun and enjoyable.
  • Lastly, we use behavior modification and counsel our patients to help break the bad habits of an unhealthy lifestyle. This is the most challenging part of treatment because people often hate change and have grown comfortable living with their issues. At DFL, we understand what each of our patients are going through. We have health coaches who not only are knowledgeable, but also have a compassionate heart to deal with these populations of patients.

Our goal is to scale down the number of drugs our patients are taking, increase energy, see good health outcomes, and help them live a longer quality lives.

What are your thoughts on the USMLE Step exams?: Be sure to do lots of practice questions.

What was your favorite study technique in medical school?: Pray first before studying. While studying, you’re not only reading and seeing, but using all your senses to listen, feel, touch, and imagine what you’re reading about.

Have you conducted any research during your career?: I am currently working on ongoing research on the effect of the 4 treatment pillars of obesity.

Advice for current medical students?: Set the bar higher only for yourself. Most importantly, be your own person. Use your unique qualities to set you apart from the other students.

 

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