Meet our Docs: Mesha Dunn, M.D., welcomes patients of all ages at Sage Primary Care
By Kristy Bleizeffer Nov 18, 2019
In her approach to family medicine, Mesha Dunn, M.D., practices a version of the Golden Rule: “My philosophy is to treat patients like they are my own family, or to treat them like I would want my family to be treated by a physician.”
As a physician and as a mother, a wife and a daughter, Dr. Dunn sees both sides of the patient/physician relationship. That close, sometimes life-long relationship between family doctor and patient is what made her choose family medicine.
“Patients want to feel like you actually care about them, that they are not just a 20-minute appointment or a number. They want to feel that you genuinely know them, know their situation and that you care about what it is going on,” said Dr. Dunn. “I know what it feels like to have questions and to be scared about a medical diagnosis. Even as a doctor, when stuff is thrown at you, it can be hard to take it all in at times, so imagine how that feels as a patient with no medical background. You just really have to take that time to explain, and re-explain and ensure that you have answered all of their questions.”
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Dr. Dunn is board-certified in family medicine. She has been working part time to be able to spend as much time as possible with her two young kids. Since they are now both in school, she is excited to begin seeing patients full-time at Sage Primary Care and is accepting patients of all ages.
In the interview below, Dr. Dunn explains how an aspiring doctor from Belize fell in love with and built a life in Casper, Wyo.
Where did you grow up, and when did you first become interested in medicine?
I grew up in Belize City in Central America. I spent all my days enjoying the sunshine and Caribbean Sea, so it was an awesome childhood. My dad was pediatrician and my mom was a nurse, so medicine was just always a part of my life, honestly. It was always something I knew I would eventually end up doing.
After college, I wasn’t quite ready to pursue medical school, because I knew the commitment it would be once you started. So, I did marine biology for a few years and worked as a manatee researcher down in Belize.
That sounds amazing.
It was an unforgettable experience. For three years, I was in a boat all day long doing marine research. Then, I thought, “Ok. I have done this, it has been great, but now it is time to pursue my long term goal, which was medicine.”
I considered pursuing a PhD in zoology with a focus on manatee biology and reproduction, but I always had this pull towards medicine. I loved the research work I was doing, I absolutely loved it, but I just didn’t feel that was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. I always had this call to go back to medicine. Again, it was just always a part of my life. I remember being around the dinner table hearing my parents talk about their work day and being too young to understand what they were saying, but it always piqued my interest from a young age.
People often talk about being “called” into health care. Can you describe what that means to you?
Coming from a developing country, I have seen the need for good health care, both sides of it. Because I had a pediatrician as a father and a nurse as a mom, I was never lacking in healthcare accessibility, but there are different parts of the country in Belize where there is just no doctor readily available.
I remember even the village where I was working doing manatee research was somewhat isolated. A retired nurse was the only healthcare professional who lived in the village. That really brought to my attention that there are certain places where health care is not easily accessible, and that really strengthened my desire to pursue medicine and provide care for people who needed it.
Did you ever get to practice in the Caribbean?
I did not. I did two years of basic sciences in Belize, and then I did my medical school rotations in Colorado. That is where I met Andy (Andy Dunn, M.D.), my husband. We were both medical students in Colorado, and we have been attached at the hip ever since.
We left Colorado and came here to Casper to do residency. We just ended up staying because both of us fell in love with Casper, and 10 years later we are still here.
What do you love about Casper?
The people. I think it is a very safe and friendly community. Everybody seems so warm and welcoming. I really like the feel of the community here and I like that it is on the smaller side.
How old are your kids?
My daughter just turned 6 and my son just turned 4.
What made you choose primary care?
Medical school rotations. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I wanted to do when I first started. I had considered surgery, but I just didn’t feel like you had the same opportunity for long term relationships that you can develop with patients. So I thought I would do internal medicine, but then my last rotation in medical school was family medicine and that completely changed my mind. The doctor I was working with, Dr. Chima Nwizu, was a fantastic physician and had such a great relationship with his patients. He would see entire families at a time, and the patient-physician dynamic was different than any other rotation I had done previously. It fascinated me the scope and breadth that you get to cover, “whole-family” care. One week into that rotation I knew that’s what I would spend my life doing.
Is that long-term relationship more difficult when health starts to decline?
It is always difficult for the patient, family and physician when that happens, but I think then the physician can become a bridge for the patient’s family and provide some comfort and knowledge and information. Especially when multiple teams and specialists are involved as is sometimes the case when health declines, one of the most important roles we play as family physicians is help with coordination of care and providing a familiar home base for our patients to return for comfort and advice.
Tell us about your work experience in Casper.
I came to Casper and started residency in 2010 and completed three years of family practice training at the University of Wyoming Family Medicine Residency Program. My daughter was born just a few months after graduation and I was so thrilled to be a mom. I did not want to return to working full time because I really wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. Then my son came along a couple years later and the same was true for him. I was blessed that I able to return to work part time at the UW Family Practice alongside the faculty who helped make me the physician that I am today.
Now that my children are older and now both in school, I’m looking forward to transitioning to a full time outpatient practice over at Sage Primary.
Are you excited to join Sage now, and start building your own family practice?
Absolutely! I always knew that once my kids were older and in school that I would switch over to more of a full-time scope. I wish they could be young and stay at home forever, but at the same time very excited about school. My daughter just started kindergarten and my son is in preschool. It is just time for me to get back into full-time practice.
How do you feel about joining Wyoming Medical Center’s network of providers?
I am definitely excited. I think Wyoming Medical Health Group is doing great things. They are expanding the health care that is available in Casper as well as- beyond, and I am proud to be a part of that.
Practicing in a relatively small town, you must run into your patients around town, at the grocery store. How do you feel about that?
I like it, because it’s part of that closeness you can build with your patients in family medicine. I see patients at grocery stores, the mall, at the movies. So I think that just kind of strengthens relationships and that sense of community.
What else would you like people to know?
Casper has always made us feel welcomed, and I think it is a great place to raise kids. I am so happy to be starting this new phase and to being here another 10 years and to seeing where life takes us.
Mesha Dunn, M.D., is board-certified in family medicine. She is accepting new patients of all ages at Sage Primary Care.