Dr. Michele Elliott is the Assistant Medical Director at The Door’s Adolescent Health Center (AHC). She joined the AHC in 2017, and is a board-certified pediatrician and a board-certificated adolescent medicine health specialist. Learn more about Dr. Elliott by reading her full bio.
August is back-to-school month, a hectic time of year for young people and caregivers. At The Door, our Adolescent Health Center is focused on making sure our Door members are prepared for success by being healthy in mind and body.
Last week, Dr. Elliott found the time in her busy schedule to talk about what it’s like working with teens and young adults at The Door.
Since we sat down to talk, you finished a conference call and your phone has been ringing nonstop. You’re obviously very busy. Is it always like this at the AHC?
Dr. Elliott laughs
Dr. E: It’s unpredictable, all the time. Just as adolescents are.
In general, a good majority of my time is spent seeing patients. At this time of year, young people are coming in with school and college forms to be filled out, and to have vaccines updated. This year it’s a little different because of the current measles outbreak. All schools need to ensure that their students are appropriately vaccinated, which means showing proper documentation or having blood work done and, if necessary, getting the vaccine.
I also meet Broome Street Academy’s (BSA) students and caregivers at orientation. When they hear that I’m a licensed pediatrician, that takes a load off for them. They know that they won’t have to take a day off from work if there’s a cough or runny nose, because The Door, AHC, and BSA are in the same building.
The rest of the year my time is spent conducting physicals and providing reproductive health care, which includes family planning, contraception, STI and HIV prevention and testing, and comprehensive sexuality education. I also take care of emergencies, the most common is allergic reactions.
Is it true that reproductive care is the number one reason young people visit the AHC?
Dr. E: Definitely. It’s a big incentive for young people. That’s often what draws them to visit The Door for the first time. They may have heard about The Door from a friend, or even their own primary care doctor.
A lot of pediatricians don’t like dealing with certain aspects of adolescent healthcare such as providing birth control, or doing pelvic exams and STI testing. That’s because the doctor has to interact with the patients’ parents, so they’re happy to refer their patients to us.
A big part of my job has been to expand primary and preventive care services at the AHC. As young people visit us or talk to other Door members, they’re realizing that we offer a wide range of services.
Q: It sounds like expanding our primary care services fits with The Door model of being a one-stop shop for adolescents.
Dr. E: That’s the advantage we have. Our goal is to look at each patient holistically. That’s why, when a young person comes in for the first time, our health education team talks with them about what may have brought them in, all before they see a medical professional. That way, we understand what’s going on in the patient’s life that could affect their physical and mental health.
We’ll see young people for annual checkups. They can get dental care – often for the first time in their lives. They get eye exams, and they can get free glasses, too. Once they do come in for something like reproductive health, they take advantage of all our healthcare services. And we direct them to other Door programs that they’ll find helpful.
I can recall working in other practices where a whole year would go by and a young person wouldn’t go to a dentist, or an eye doctor, or get an annual physical because it wasn’t all right there in one location.
I know you have a busy schedule but before you go, can you share with me what’s your favorite thing about your job? What gets you excited to walk through the door every morning?
Dr. E: It’s a dream to work at The Door as an adolescent physician. I know the importance of having multiple resources, in the clinic and at The Door, in one setting. Our goal is always to work with a young person holistically, because there are so many issues specific to teens and young adults that can impact the rest of their lives. The Door’s commitment to having all the resources a young person may need under one roof is the ideal approach.
Dr. Michele Elliott MD
Michele Elliott MD, has served as the Assistant Medical Director at The Door’s Adolescent Health Center since 2017. As a graduate of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she has over 20 years as a physician and is board-certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and most recently, in Obesity Medicine. Prior to joining The Door, Dr. Elliott dedicated her career to working as a hospitalist and adolescent specialist in medically-underserved areas throughout New York City. Some of her previous experience includes tenure at Downstate Hospital Medical Center as the Director of Medical Education for resident continuity clinic and head of the Adolescent Medicine division at Harlem Hospital.