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Family physician, alumna inspires the next generation of doctors at UD

By Kate Chesar

Annette Chavez ’81 always knew she wanted to be a doctor. Today, she is inspiring the next generation of medical professionals as an instructor and mentor.

Her work builds on a long tradition in the University of Dayton's pre-medical department, created in 1915 under the direction of Bro. William Beck.

“Although my family was filled with teachers, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a doctor,” she said.

Chavez, a board certified family physician who serves as adjunct faculty in UD Premedical Programs, graduated from the University of Dayton and matriculated to Ohio State University’s medical school. After returning to Dayton to begin her career, she was invited by then-premed advisor Carl Michaelis to speak with a group of students about what to expect in medical school.

Despite the demands of her profession, Chavez has remained committed to serving premedical students at the University. She speaks annually to UD’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a U.S. health pre-professional honors society, teaches mini-courses and leads students on international medical brigades.

“I’ve grown to embrace that part of the Hippocratic oath about teaching the next generation,” Chavez said when asked why she makes time to provide insights and opportunities to students. “I try to be a positive voice. We can make a big difference as doctors in people’s lives.”

Chavez pursued a medical degree at a time when women were often expected to become nurses rather than physicians — only 28% of the students in her medical school class were female. She feels compelled to help students. “I was that kid once, very unsure if I was going to get into medical school," she said.

Elizabeth Rhoads, director of UD Premedical Programs, said incoming students are often initially attracted by niche areas of medicine. “Dr. Chavez surprises students,” Rhoads said. “Every year when she speaks to UD’s AED chapter, I see students respond to her passion for primary care.”

Chavez, Premedicine, 2024

Chavez has longstanding relationships with her patients, treating multiple generations of family members in some cases. 

“The stories she tells about her practice illustrate the importance of an established doctor-patient relationship and how family doctors make critical differences in diagnosis and quality of life for their patients,” Rhoads said. “Her career and teaching model compassionate care and service. Students learn the valuable role physicians fill in our society from her,” said Rhoads. “It is very appropriate that she was recently selected as a Woman of UD honoree.“

In addition to her involvement on campus, Chavez regularly employs three UD graduates at her practice, Carillon Family Practice, who are taking a gap year before applying to medical school.

“It really gives them a leg up on medical school,” Chavez said. “They learn about the world of medicine, medical terminology and how to talk with patients as they collect medical histories.” These experiences are crucial in building students’ confidence and competence.

Currently, there are four former Carillon Family Practice employees from UD in residency, six in medical school and three in physician assistant school. In addition, one recently graduated physician assistant is working at Ohio State University.

“After my time working for Dr. Chavez, I feel very comfortable communicating with and working with patients and others,” said Julia Feder ’23, who spent a gap year working at Chavez’s practice. There, she took medical histories, drew blood and helped with billing, callbacks and office procedures.

“‘Doc,’ as we refer to her in the office, is a fantastic mentor and working in her office has emphasized my desire to work in medicine and health care,” Feder said. “She is a great teacher and it is so evident that her patients adore her and appreciate her dedication to them.”

Dedicated alumni and community members are an essential part of the University of Dayton’s Premedical Programs.

“The difference partners like Dr. Chavez make in providing a rounded experience for students is invaluable,” Rhoads said. “Students see what dedicated medical care looks like in the community, learn skills to excel in medical school and develop a passion for their careers — that’s the legacy that UD’s Premedical Programs is built on.”

Middle photo: Annette Chavez ’81 (center) with her colleagues at her practice.

Chavez, Premedicine, 2024

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