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Kristin Lynch Grimes: Prioritizing Patient Voices and Embracing Whole-Person Wellness

Kristin Lynch Grimes
By Amy Ostroth -

Kristin Lynch Grimes, DO, VCOM-Virginia 2013, is a woman of faith who knew from the age of seven that she wanted to be a physician.

In fact, one of her defining childhood memories is of her previously healthy grandmother being admitted to a hospital on a Friday afternoon and dying just two days later. “I remember observing what was going on and listening to my mom and her siblings talking, but the voice of my family wasn’t being heard by the medical professionals,” she recalls.

Even at age seven, she knew that wasn’t right.

“I was paying attention to everything that was going on, and after my grandmother passed away, I said, ‘I want to be a doctor to make sure I listen to people and take the best care of them and their families,’” Dr. Grimes remembers.

She also remembers her mother asking her how she could be a doctor when she didn’t even like taking medicine. Even as a teenager, she was always looking for ways to manage pain and illness without medication. Of course, being a doctor who listens to their patients and doesn’t necessarily reach first for medication is right in line with the osteopathic philosophy. However, Dr. Grimes doesn’t remember hearing about osteopathic medicine when she was in college, despite being active in the pre-medical community at Tulane University, where she earned her undergraduate degree.

It wasn’t until grad school that she did some research on osteopathy and found VCOM. “I went to my VCOM interview, and it just felt like family,” she recalls. “Some students who were there took me to dinner and talked with me, and even after the interview, they kept in touch.” Like so many people do, she learned that that sense of family wasn’t something that VCOM did for show. “It wasn’t a façade,” Dr. Grimes says. “It wasn’t a lure. What I saw at VCOM is what it is.”

At VCOM, Dr. Grimes got from her faculty and classmates what she wishes her family had gotten that long ago weekend when her grandmother was in the hospital: She was listened to.

In addition to teaching us how to be good doctors, they taught us about good working relationships in a professional environment. The idea that we’re going to take care of our people translates from the student environment to the doctor-patient environment.

Kristin Lynch Grimes

When Dr. Grimes went to medical school, she thought she would end up as an OB/GYN, but during her rotations, she noticed that rather than gravitating toward new mothers in the delivery room, she was more interested in the newborns. She was inspired by her internal medicine rotation in Bluefield, West Virginia, and discovered that she really liked the outpatient work as opposed to being in the hospital. She notes that in the hospital, particularly the emergency room, patients pass through, and you don’t often get to know what happens after they leave. “I like the idea of checking up to see how things went,” she says.

She also did a pediatric rotation at Carilion in Roanoke, Virginia, and loved it, despite her worry that she wouldn’t be able to handle kids being sick. “Kids are like a breath of fresh air,” she says. “They’re really cute, and most of them are really sweet. I felt like I was able to bring some calm and peace to them and it was a good connection.”

In the end, Dr. Grimes didn’t have to choose just one specialty. After completing her DO degree at VCOM-Virginia, Dr. Grimes headed to LSU Health New Orleans to complete a dual residency in internal medicine and pediatrics.

Dr. Grimes is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, so it’s not surprising that her current work finds her practicing in her home state. After all, it is common for VCOM alumni to return home to practice, especially when they come from medically underserved areas like Dr. Grimes does. Following her residencies, she spent several years working at a hospital, where she found that she didn’t have time to listen to her patients in the way that she wanted to. She would get 15 to 20 minutes with a patient, and if the patient was late or had paperwork, it was even less.

But in late 2023, after several months of work toward her goal, she was able to open her own practice: The Louisiana Center for Health and Wellness in Baton Rouge. Having her own practice was something she had always wanted, but how to begin isn’t something you’re taught in medical school. In fact, for most of her career, Dr. Grimes felt like having her own practice was unattainable, even though she was sure about wanting the autonomy that comes from working for yourself.

That’s where her faith comes in. She didn’t know where or how to start, but her faith was greater than her fear. “I could not have done this on my own,” she says. “There was definitely divine encouragement and intervention.”

Though she is only about a year into her new venture, she has definite ideas about its future. “It has become much bigger than I originally thought,” she says. “I bought the building last year, and it’s about 6,700 square feet.”

And what does she intend to do with all that space? She wants to have her practice on one side of the building and the wellness center on the other. There will be fitness coaching, a demonstration kitchen and nutrition counseling, a dance studio, and mental health counseling. The idea is that her patients will be able to receive the many different services they need all in one place. As she is telling her patients they need to eat better or exercise more, they’ll have a place right there where they can learn to do those things.

This will be a true medical home that will make it easier to carry through and follow up. Patients won’t feel like they are a number, and they’ll have accountability because they know Dr. Grimes will be checking up on this.

Kristin Lynch Grimes

Dr. Grimes also hopes her practice will be a catalyst for the neighborhood, which doesn’t have a lot of resources. She wants to be the first of many who will come in and help develop a thriving community. It may take some time to get there, but she says: “Once it’s completed, it’s going to be a really awesome opportunity for patients and for people in the community in general.”

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