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Spotlight on Pediatrician Dr. Nathan McFarland

Pediatrician Spotlight is a segment in Coastal Currents highlighting one of AAP-CA3’s Outstanding Chapter Members or programs.

Dr. Nathan McFarland attended medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1999 and completed his internal medicine/pediatrics residency at the University of California San Diego in 2003. He has been practicing primary care in internal medicine and pediatrics in a Federally Qualified Health Care Center ever since graduating from UCSD.

Dr. McFarland served on AAP-CA3’s Board of Directors and is currently the chapter’s immediate-past president.

Get to know Dr. McFarland by reading his pediatrician spotlight!

AAP-CA3: What is your current job/professional responsibilities?

Dr. McFarland: I am a primary care physician practicing internal medicine and pediatrics at the Neighborhood Healthcare clinic in Lakeside California. Neighborhood Healthcare is an FQHC with multiple sites throughout San Diego and Riverside counties. I am also a member of the volunteer clinical faculty at UCSD, training med/peds residents in primary care and underserved medicine.

AAP-CA3: How did you first get involved in the AAP?

Dr. McFarland: I first became involved with the American Academy of Pediatrics shortly after starting my position at Neighborhood Healthcare in Lakeside. The rural clinic location was suffering from a lack of behavioral health resources for children. I began working with the local school district and various Community resources to try to address this disparity of care. We formed a community collaborative and heard about the CATCH program from Bron Anders, who was a founding member not only of CATCH, but also of the Lakeside clinic. Working with the AAP Chapter 3 CATCH facilitator Ingrid Lin, we applied for and received a CATCH grant to pilot a multidisciplinary behavioral health resource for children in Lakeside. When the Chapter 3 CATCH facilitator position became available, I was offered this role. I served as the Chapter Facilitator for 3 years, and then was offered the role of District CATCH Facilitator for District 9. I served in this role for 6 years, and currently serve on the Chapter Board.

AAP-CA3: Why should pediatricians join the AAP?

Dr. McFarland: There are many benefits to involvement with the AAP. One very important benefit is the constant flow of timely, expert information from the Academy that helps practicing pediatricians stay current with the rapidly changing pediatric healthcare environment. Especially in these challenging times, the Academy is a critical resource in the daily struggle to keep abreast of fast-paced developments.

Another essential benefit of the Academy, on both a local and national level, is the incredible amount of work dedicated to legislative advocacy around bills that address many key issues facing both practicing physicians and our patients. The work of the Academy in legislative advocacy has been crucial to many of the groundbreaking legislative successes that have taken place in California, and collectively this legislation has had immeasurable benefits for both children and pediatricians in our state.

The last one I will mention is in the area of career/leadership development. Involvement in the academy provides many opportunities for pediatricians to experience leadership roles that prove very valuable, not only in career development, but also in building the skills necessary to be a more effective advocate for patients and the field of pediatrics generally.

I could go on at length, but we’ll leave it at that for now. I’m happy to extol the virtues of AAP membership in greater detail if anyone wants to get me started on the topic at a later date.

AAP-CA3: What is your current role in the AAP-CA3 chapter?

Dr. McFarland: I am currently serving on the AAP-CA3 board in the role of Immediate Past-President, having completed the roles of Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President, and President.

AAP-CA3: What do you enjoy most about being a chapter member?

Dr. McFarland: The thing that I enjoy most is hearing about the incredible work being done by my colleagues throughout the state, but especially in the Chapter, and having the opportunity to support this work and sometimes provide ideas and insights on how we might leverage Chapter resources and connections to forward these efforts.

AAP-CA3: How does the chapter support your passion?

Dr. McFarland:  The Chapter has always been supportive of projects and programs that I have undertaken, providing connections to key resources in the community, funding opportunities, advice, encouragement, and the weight of the Chapter’s endorsement of both my efforts and me personally. Having an opportunity and a place to see the bigger picture outside of the daily challenges of direct patient care helps to maintain my sanity and passion for the field.

AAP-CA3: Did you have a mentor who influenced you to become the physician that you are now?

Dr. McFarland: I am definitely thankful for the advice and encouragement of  so many of the Chapter officers that came before me and the examples that they set, as well as Meredith Kennedy and the AAP  Chapter staff. I would also say that Bron Anders served as a powerful role model for me, took an interest in my career and introduced me to the AAP leadership opportunities, for which I am very grateful.

AAP-CA3: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Dr. McFarland: I like surfing and sailing when I have time, and playing guitar regardless.