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Dr. Kathryn Ann Morsea





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1955


Medical School

University of California, Davis, School of Medicine


Geography

LOCATION
New Mexico
LOCATION
California


Career Path

General medicine: Family
Dr. Kathryn Ann Morsea



Inspiration

I always had a strong interest in science. I became interested in becoming a doctor after experiences with my first children's health problems and interfacing with the Indian health care system. I became acutely aware of environmental, nutritional and social factors on an individual's health status and the great need for American Indian physicians who would serve their communities.



Biography

With a special interest in the benefits of a traditional American Indian diet, family practitioner Kathryn A. Morsea, M.D., incorporates traditional healing practices into her patient care. In order to raise her daughter and practice medicine within a Navajo community, she is a practitioner of family medicine in Gallup, New Mexico.

Following a successful career as a jewelry designer, Kathryn Morsea entered the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine at about the same time her first two children entered adolescence. She received her M.D. in 1993 and remained at University of California, Davis for her residency in family practice and a fellowship that included research on Native American healers. While in Sacramento, Dr. Morsea served as medical services director for the California Rural Indian Health Board and practiced medicine at the Yuba City Indian Health Center. During this time she also served numerous volunteer positions. On Saturdays Dr. Morsea supervised medical students as a preceptor at the Clinica Tepati, a University of California, Davis-sponsored clinic that provided care to poor and underserved patients. For her work there Dr. Morsea received awards in 1988 and 1995 for Outstanding Commitment and Dedication, and in 1997 was named Preceptor of the Year. Dr. Morsea also served as a volunteer physician at the Imani Clinic and the University of California, Davis Medical Center and for the 1995 U.S. Track and Field Championships. Dr. Morsea is also a noted lecturer and in 1991 coordinated the annual lecture series on health care for the underserved at the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Morsea integrates traditional practices with her training as a physician. Her third child was born in 1999, while she was practicing in the Sacramento area. At that point, "I decided it was time to go back to where I felt was my home area and raise my child as a Navajo." In her position as medical officer at the Gallup Indian Medical Center in New Mexico, Dr. Morsea observes, "My patients seem to appreciate that I know something about traditional medicine and not only approve, but even refer from time to time to medicine men and women." Particularly interested in the benefits of traditional Indian diet in maintaining and regaining health and harmony, Dr. Morsea is also working to establish a Navajo Hogan and sweat lodges for members of the Gallup community.

"At first, I tried to do many things: teaching, administration, patient care, public speaking, etc. Now, I focus mostly on patient care and my interests in traditional medicine and nutrition." Of her life in New Mexico, Dr. Morsea notes: "I am very happy within our four sacred mountains and intend to stay."



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

Struggles with numerous personal issues. Just prior to entering medical school, I lost my closest friend and my mother-in-law and became a single parent. Dealing with the "fallout" from all that and my children's adolescence made it extremely difficult to keep going at times.

How do I make a difference?

I hope I influence people to improve their nutrition and the care of themselves. I also encourage the use of traditional Indian medicine (and traditions) to maintain and regain health and harmony.

My patients seem to appreciate that I know something about traditional medicine and not only approve, but even refer from time to time to medicine men and women.

Who was my mentor?

I learned from many. To be brief, first was probably my mother-in-law, Nina Wallace, who was a nurse. In my fellowship and afterward, my fellowship director Ron Chapman, M.D. Currently, my most important mentors are Coleen Sisk-Franco, a medicine woman in California and Mitzi Begay, a Navajo traditionalist. Both women are great friends.

How has my career evolved over time?

At first, I tried to do many things: teaching, administration, patient care, public speaking, etc. Now I focus mostly on patient care and my interests of traditional medicine and nutrition.