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Observations BMJ Confidential

Damon Francis: Making the road by walking

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 18 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k2914
Duncan Smith


Damon Francis, 39, is chief medical officer of Health Leads, a Boston based non-profit that aims to tackle the social determinants of health in the US. After qualifying at the University of California, San Francisco, he worked as a doctor in the East Bay AIDS Center across the bay in Alameda County and spent five years as medical director of an organisation delivering healthcare to homeless people. In the US healthcare system, he says, identifying a social need as a cause of illness does not qualify as a diagnosis, and dealing with that need does not count as treatment. So, patients are repeatedly treated for things that do count but don’t work.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a professional basketball player—a dream shared by my grandfather, my father, and my son. One of us still has a chance.

What was your best career move?

After residency I considered doing a research fellowship, but I chose to join an HIV primary care practice instead. My career since then has been shaped by the experience of providing …

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