Julie Elder, DO, ’98, is the chief medical officer at GraceMed in Wichita, Kansas. As a federally qualified health center, GraceMed provides medical care to a largely underserved patient population. An alumna of A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), Dr. Elder is committed to ATSU’s mission to serve the underserved, a passion she nurtures in her role at GraceMed.
“For me it’s a calling,” says Dr. Elder. “The patients we serve are truly grateful for the care that they receive, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I also think there’s a lot to be said for the peace of mind in knowing that I’m where God intended me to be. It’s much more than a career path.”
Dr. Elder also enjoys the day-to-day responsibilities of her role. She is able to divide her time between working with patients in the clinic, completing administrative tasks, and mentoring other providers.
“I feel truly blessed to be able to do what I do and in this capacity,” she says. “I have a balance between patient care and administration. For me, it’s been a really good fit, and I enjoy it.”
True to her osteopathic education, Dr. Elder is committed to nurturing the body, mind, and spirit of her patients. Because GraceMed also serves as a Christian ministry, Dr. Elder has access to a wealth of spiritual resources. In her words, it’s like having “an extra tool in the toolbox” when it comes to whole person care.
“As clinicians, we have to be mindful of each aspect of a person when considering how best to help them,” she says. “We address the physical conditions certainly, but we also have to think about the mental and spiritual health of each person, in order to fully address the concept of wellness. Each aspect is just as important as the next in the big picture.”
The most rewarding aspect of her work is knowing that she’s making a difference in the lives of GraceMed patients, and it’s clear that her efforts are appreciated. In fact, a patient recently brought her flowers as a thank you.
“As a physician, you know you’re helping people, but sometimes you have no idea just how much they help you with their appreciation or their kind words,” she says. “It’s those little acts of kindness that truly bless me. A lot of times the patients have no idea how much that means to me.”