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School of Medicine Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine profiles

May 29, 2012

Rebecca Etz, Ph.D.

Rebecca Etz, Ph.D.

Rebecca Etz, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist who recently joined the family medicine department. That may sound an odd match, but it fits Etz perfectly. “In college, I always imagined I’d be a family doctor,” she says. To learn more, she shadowed general practitioners, but found the reality did not match her expectations. She gravitated to anthropology, getting her Ph.D. at Rutgers.

Next, she took a postdoctoral fellowship at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and did research, from the vantage point of an anthropologist, on primary care practice. From that experience, she emerged with two driving motivations: cultural anthropology has a lot to offer primary care practitioners, and current primary care practice does not yet do enough to integrate mental and behavioral health. “For my career to have meaning, I’d like to help figure out how to have medical records give voice to patient concerns and to foster everyday integration of mental and behavioral health into primary care practice,” said Etz.

Etz was excited to come to the MCV Campus because of “the really incredibly gifted team” in the department. “They have an unusual level of passion and enthusiasm for what they do,” she said.

Her current work involves finding exemplars of primary care practice and identifying key attributes — whether innovative staffing or integrated care delivery — from which others could learn and grow.