Many doctors experience a feeling of a higher calling to go into medicine, but Dr. Meredith Maxwell, a primary care physician with Crescent City Physicians, can even identify the exact moment when she knew she wanted to become a physician.
“Both my mom and my dad were in medicine, and, when I was really young, I remember a man had a seizure when we were at the movies, and my dad helped him,” Dr. Maxwell says. “Seeing him in action, saving someone’s life, made me realize that I wanted to be able to help people someday too.”
Dr. Maxwell attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she completed her family medicine residency, before joining the Touro Infirmary health system. She says that she “couldn’t decide between an OB/GYN, internal medicine and pediatric practice,” so she chose family medicine because it “never gets boring,” allowing her to see patients of all ages and “treat the whole family.” Though she treats both men and women ages 15 and older, most of Dr. Maxwell’s patients are women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, allowing her to maintain a gynecological aspect of her practice.
In a single day, she might treat one patient for insomnia, help another with smoking cessation, prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, treat someone’s skin issue, monitor a patient’s blood pressure, help manage a patient’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, administer blood tests for a diabetic, perform an annual gynecologic exam and treat another patient for a muscular issue. The nature of her practice means that there is no average day for Dr. Maxwell, and often a patient visit planned to discuss a specific issue will lead to conversations about a variety of other health concerns — both mental and physical.
“There’s a certain level of empathy you have to have in this practice,” Dr. Maxwell says. “Because it is increasingly difficult to see a specialist, I treat a lot of mental health concerns — which I think is the real essence of primary care. Often there can be an underlying emotional issue that can cause physical symptoms, so I try to teach my patients about how to maintain their health. A lot of those discussions revolve around diet, exercise and sleep patterns.”
To stay healthy, Dr. Maxwell’s mantra is actually quite simple: “Be more good than bad,” she says. “I don’t expect my patients to be perfect. Life is meant to be enjoyed! Just make more good, healthy decisions than bad ones.”
Dr. Maxwell notes that these good decisions are especially important during the holiday season, when overindulging is common. She advises patients to try to walk everyday to help offset binge eating, and to try to eat lightly on the days leading up to a holiday or event — though she cautions against skipping meals. “I do a lot of dietary counseling on how to eat small, frequent meals, and I tell my patients to never go to a party hungry!”
Unfortunately, Dr. Maxwell does treat a greater number of mental health issues during the holidays, when many patients mourn lost loved ones, and grapple with financial anxiety and family problems. “Again, I stress doing more good things than bad,” she says. “We’ll talk about time management, the importance of exercise and quality sleep.”
Dr. Maxwell says she attempts to put a lot of effort into her patients by treating the whole person, including both mental and physical issues, but she also gets a great deal out of that effort. “I love when I have patients come up to me and say, ‘I have so much energy! I’ve never felt so well!’”
MEREDITH MAXWELL, M.D., M.H.A.
3525 Prytania St., Ste. 301
New Orleans, LA 70115
Masters in Health Care Administration: St. Joseph’s College, Standish, ME
Medical School, Residency: University of South Alabama College of Medicine & Family Residency Program, Mobile, AL
Internship: University of South Alabama College of Medicine Family Residency Program, Mobile, AL
Board Certifications: American Board of Family Medicine Diplomate