Daughter Follows Father into a Career of Family Medicine

By Dennis Archambault

When Authority Health launched its teaching health center in 2013, it recruited community physicians willing to serve as preceptors for incoming residents. Sin Ching Chiu, M.D., who worked at Family Health Center in Temperance, Michigan, enjoyed teaching and thought it would be mutually beneficial to have residents working under his direction. He became a well-respected member of the Authority Health clinical faculty.

“I thought it would be a good idea for us to precept family practice residents,” Dr. Chiu says. “In our area, there are lot of interesting cases that they can learn from.” Dr. Chiu, in fact, learned that firsthand in rural health rotation as a third-year Family Practice resident at the Family Health Center.

It wasn’t so much the diseases that challenged him, but the underlying factors that influenced these patients – known today as the “social determinants of health.” It’s a “really challenging, difficult environment” because of this. Dr. Chiu, who serves as medical director of Family Health Center, enjoys teaching because he can learn some of the new ideas coming out of medical school, while sharing the techniques he has developed in practice. Residents, he says, come to him with a strong knowledge base, but everything they tend to do seems to come out of a textbook. “You need to look at the whole well-being of the person. It’s not just the physical being. It’s the underlying medical and economic situation. If you understand their background, then you can understand why there is a pathological disease.”

Decades later, one of his three daughters, Nathaline Chiu, decided to carry on the family legacy as a physician. Initially, she shadowed her father, learning to be patient, kind, and an engaging educator, “making sure patients understood their diagnosis and treatment plan. I wanted to be like that with my own patients.”

Central to that legacy is something she would come to understand as “population health.” Following medical school, she received a master’s degree in public health. When she was looking for a residency program, she was attracted to Authority Health because it offered a certificate in population health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “I really wanted the opportunity to delve into the population aspect of Family Medicine,” she says. “I feel that to be able to care for the patient you have to understand the environment that they grew up in and the factors that influence their health from the past to their present. That population health aspect and looking at the patient holistically would help me be a better physician.”

Her father would have said that as well. He gave her inspiration and guidance, as well as a quiet sense of leadership. As he rose to be medical director of Family Health Center, the younger Dr. Chiu became chief resident of Family Medicine at Authority Health. She completed her residency training this year.