Friday, February 7, 2014

Paula Anderson-Worts DO, MPH

This week’s minority women in medicine highlight goes to Dr. Paula Anderson-Worts. I am so very thankful for the fact that she allowed me to interview her over the phone the other day, and her passion for medicine and life definitely showed. I hope she inspires you guys as much as she inspired me.


Dr. Anderson-Worts is a family practice physician located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at NOVA Southeastern University College of Osteopathic medicine (NSU-COM). She received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Miami and her medical degree from NSU-COM. She has been practicing medicine for 16 and a half years. She is also an associate professor and program director for the family medicine residency program as well as the traditional rotating internship at NSU-COM. She teaches medical students as well as residents, and Dr. Anderson-Worts has also coordinated medical mission trips to Jamaica bi-annually for the past 13 years. Her complete biography can be found here HERE.

What made you want to become a physician?

Dr. Anderson-Worts gives credit to the fact that her mom was a nurse and highly influenced her interest in medicine. She was also influenced by watching the soap opera General Hospital, which had a character named Jeff Webber who was a surgeon in the show. He would be dressed in his scrubs and running through the hospital and that seemed very exciting to her. For the longest time she wanted to be a cardiothoracic surgeon just like the character. The show solidified her desire to pursue medicine, but most of the credit goes to her mother. Dr. Anderson-Worts’ passion for medicine started when she was 8 and has never wavered.

Were you a non-traditional student or re-applicant?

Dr. Anderson-Worts took a year off after graduating from the University of Miami and worked at a family physician’s office.

Why did you choose to attend an osteopathic school?

Dr. Anderson-Worts had always been treated by osteopathic physicians and her mom worked at an osteopathic hospital for 26 years. This strongly influenced her to pursue the path. She also wanted to stay in Florida when she was applying to medical school, so she applied to the few allopathic and osteopathic schools in the state. She chose the osteopathic school because they gave her a full tuition scholarship. She thanks God for this and states that it was the best choice. This is because she knew that she wanted to practice more preventative medicine, and being able to use your hands to heal instead of always having to prescribe medicine was appealing. She said that once she actually fully understood the osteopathic philosophy, she felt drawn to this type of medical practice.

Why did you choose the specialty/field that you are in?

Dr. Anderson-Worts grew up with some philosophical beliefs about health and wellness, and when she was 16 she had the vision of doing medical missions. She felt that she needed to have a specialty that would make her well-rounded. She started off thinking she would be a cardiothoracic surgeon, and then before medical school she thought she would go into pediatric medicine because she loved kids, but when she started rotations she realized family medicine was a great fit for her because she wanted to be more well-rounded. She also worked with a family physician for a year before starting medical school which further influenced her decision. She enjoyed her family medicine rotations and believed that it would fit into her long term goal of medical outreach.

How do you maintain a positive life-work balance?

She said it is not always easy, but as you grow and work towards improving who you are as a person you have to analyze and create a balance between who you are, your work, family life and the things that you are passionate about. Many years ago she read a book titled “Choosing to Cheat, “which emphasized the fact that if you spend a lot of time in one area of your life you will be cheating other areas of your life. Although you may not feel the consequences immediately, you will be faced with the effects at some point in your life. For her it is all about having that level of consciousness. It is not easy to do and it is something that she is constantly working on, but Dr. Anderson-Worts is always analyzing and evaluating to see how she can make herself better and provide time for the things that are most important to her.

What advice would you give to other minority females pursuing medicine?

Her biggest advice is that you should follow your dreams and not allow anyone to discourage you despite your obstacles. She feels that the greatest joys in life come from fulfilling your purpose and carrying out God’s will for your life. Dr. Anderson-Worts suggests that if you want to find joy in what you do trust God,  follow your passion, and you will find your purpose.  

What advice do you have for entering medical students?

The information taught in medical school is not necessarily difficult to grasp, but it is the volume that is challenging for most medical students. She encourages people to find out how they study best and try to study by themselves, as well as with a group. Then you will be able to figure out the environment in which you work best. In her opinion, to get through medical school you have to do a combination of both of these. Seek out the ways in which you study best, because the sooner you learn, the better you will do.

Where can we find out more information about you?

Dr. Anderson-Worts is one of the founding members of a non-profit organization called Women of H.O.P.E. (health occupations promoting education). Her organization works to not only educate minority communities, but also to promote healthier life style practices within these communities. It is also an organization that connects health with spirituality. For more information, please check out her website:


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