Dr. Ann Newman Chelminski is a primary care physician at Campus Health. She is currently serving as the President of the medical staff.
Dr. Chelminski was born in San Francisco, but grew up primarily in northwest Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. The educational road leading to her current position was broad and winding rather than straight and narrow. She was an English Literature major at Duke and took some science classes, but was not pre-med. After college graduation she worked for the National Geographic Society as an administrative assistant. She then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in Kenya; while there she taught in two schools, one elementary, the other a girls’ high school. The second school was located in a rural area that had only a tiny health clinic run by a Catholic mission. She started volunteering at that clinic and her interest in medicine was born. When she returned to the US, she provided health education for migrant farmworkers for a summer, then worked full-time while taking pre-med courses at The University of Pennsylvania and at UNC.
She attended Duke for medical school, which was an unexpected life turn. “Being pre-med was so competitive and stressful for the undergrads around me when I was there that I never thought I’d be back for medical school,” Dr. Chelminski said. She later did her residency at UNC Hospitals and fell in love with living in Carrboro and Chapel Hill – as well as her ability to bike to work. Her oldest son is now in school at UNC and she has become a strong UNC fan (“don’t ask me who I cheer for in basketball, though,” she said).
After working in environmental public health for the state of NC and then in a rural community health center, Dr. Chelminski realized she liked looking at health from both a population level and individual level. A university does this – with the population scaled to those on campus. “As a medical provider at Campus Health, I have some public health functions as well as taking care of individual students,” said Dr. Chelminski. She also mentioned her appreciation of the diversity of patients she sees at Campus Health.
Dr. Chelminski spoke of the positive work environment at Campus Health, with its emphasis on delivering excellent care while also providing support for staff. “I’m always doing something new and learning from my colleagues,” she said.
The patients remain a big part of what Dr. Chelminski loves. “Not all of our students are young adults, but many are. It is such an exciting time of life that can be both stressful and confusing. I like trying to help people navigate this time and love learning about the diverse and interesting things the students are doing.”
Policy impact on health
When asked about a significant accomplishment of her career, Dr. Chelminski spoke of research she did for the state when she worked with migrant farmworkers. She was asked to investigate birth defects in farmworkers and pesticide exposure. “I wrote a report that I was proud of,” she said, “but I left shortly after because funding for the position disappeared. It was such a learning experience to see how politics affect policy. Occupational and environmental health is still an area of passion for me.”
Dr. Chelminski continues to be involved in policy, but on a Campus Health sized scale. She is involved with projects that will affect the quality of care patients receive at Campus Health. “I would love to see these implemented over the next year,” she said.
Come See for Yourself
Dr. Chelminski works in the Campus Health Primary Care clinic, on the first floor of the James A. Taylor Campus Health building. When not at work, she is likely doing ‘anything outdoors’, spending time with her family, playing tennis, reading or trying to revive her French and Spanish language skills.