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Q & A with Monalisa Tailor, MD

Norton Healthcare, KMA President 2022-2023

Monalisa Tailor, MD, Norton Healthcare, KMA president 2022-2023

Please recap your education and medical training, including where you grew up and when you decided to become a physician

My parents immigrated to Bowling Green, Kentucky, from India around 1979 to be closer to my grandparents who were in Tennessee. I grew up in Bowling Green and attended the University of Kentucky where I majored in political science with a minor in biology. I went to the University of Louisville School of Medicine for my medical degree. I did a oneyear internship at the University of Florida and returned to Louisville for my second and third years of residency in internal medicine. I did my chief resident year at UofL and stayed on for two years as faculty.

Immigrant families have similar aspirations for their children, regardless of where they come from. They want their kids to become doctors, lawyers, engineers. America allows that opportunity. My family is no different. I was told early on that I should be a doctor. I originally wanted to be a cardiologist, when in my senior year of high school my grandmother died following her coronary artery bypass surgery. It shook me and made me wonder why I would want to be involved in medicine. It took me some time and reflection. I helped my grandfather following her passing with his medical conditions and managing his medications, his mental health, and taking care of him. It helped me see how medicine could make a difference in a positive way.

Are there any other doctors or healthcare providers in your family?

My family is composed of tailors. The whole family knows how to sew. My grandfather would sew and make clothing and furniture when in India. When we immigrated to America, you could say we diversified. My uncle, Prayus Tailor, and his wife are physicians in Delaware. He was president of the Medical Society of Delaware a few years ago. I have cousins who are physicians that are within my generation. Another uncle is a dentist in Florida.

What led you to pursue internal medicine?

As a third-year medical student, internal medicine stood out to me because the internist could be Sherlock Holmes putting the pieces of the puzzle together and figuring out the diagnosis. That was most appealing to me.

What brought you to Norton Healthcare?

I went into internal medicine because I wanted to take care of patients on an ongoing basis with their chronic conditions. It was important to me to be able to establish a relationship and take care of the whole person. I was so impressed with the patient-centered focus when I interviewed with Norton Healthcare. The patient focus was present in every aspect of my interview, and that was the most important piece for me. That told me I had found the right spot.

What does a week in your professional life look like?

I treat everything like a 30-minute appointment block. Four of my days I’m focused on patient care from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday is my administrative day for my medical director meetings and that also includes review of KMA initiatives and meetings with staff. Evenings can sometimes include KMA meetings. I also take some Zoom meetings while going for a walk to get some physical activity in.

Describe your patient population: age, presentations, and treatments.

I see patients between 18–96 years of age. They come in for their annual physicals, office visits to discuss chronic conditions, and sick visits. My favorite part is educating patients to better understand their condition.

What motivated you to become involved in the Kentucky Medical Association and its leadership?

In college, I saw the interplay of legislative decisions and healthcare firsthand. I was an intern for State Senator Brett Guthrie and got to see this interaction firsthand in Frankfort. It was a natural fit to see that governmental decisions impacted us in healthcare. I wanted to be part of the conversation because that’s how positive change would occur.

I’ve been a member of KMA and organized medicine since 2006 in medical school. Persistence helped me stay involved. I knew why this work was important, and I wanted to continue to play a part.

When I started out doing this, there were not a lot of people who looked like me. The conversations being had in those rooms were not always familiar to me. I persisted, formed relationships, and broadened the view of the others around me. I stayed involved, and that has helped me get to where I am today. It was most impactful at our recent Indian doctor meeting having physicians who immigrated here in the 1970s saying hello to me and being truly excited about having a physician that looked like them being represented within the KMA.

Tell us your agenda and plans for the next year at KMA. Is there a theme that you want to express?

We have collectively been through a lot in the last two years. For healthcare workers, it has been difficult and traumatic. As we move forward in this stage of the pandemic, my theme for the next year is “Rejuvenate Medicine.” I want to remind us of what brought us to medicine to begin with, what keeps us going, and how we continue to sustain ourselves in this environment. This is a rewarding career, and we truly get to make a difference. I think we need a better understanding of trauma informed care and health inequities to help us better take care of ourselves and our patients.

What are the most common misconceptions among physicians about the role and importance of physician-led organizations like KMA that you want to address?

As physicians, we are dedicated and focused on the care of our patients. A lot of physicians are employed these days, some are still in independent practice. It is easy to say, “We don’t have the time. This work is not important because it doesn’t directly impact day-to-day patient care in real time.” For physicians, this is our opportunity to impact the things that get bothersome in our world: prior authorization, expanding access to cancer screening, expanding access to tobacco cessation products for our patients. It is a way we can take some control back and be a part of the conversation to make things better.

I’ve referenced HB 529 from the 2022 Legislative Session to many of my colleagues because they know it; they have seen its impact on patients. We now have three days to contact our patients with sensitive results and discuss a plan with them; it has impacted our patients’ care. It allows my patient to not learn from their CT scan result that popped up on their device that they have pancreatic cancer and it gives me an opportunity to call them directly and come up with a plan.

Describe your personal philosophy of care.

I recognize as a physician that if the providers taking care of my grandmother had recognized the whole picture, she would have been cared for differently. She was a long-standing diabetic. She was in a level of renal failure. She was not a great surgical candidate. Her outcome could have been different with a holistic approach. I take care of patients the way I would want my family members to be taken care of by their medical providers.