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Meet Dr. Anne Stephens
August 14, 2014
Anne Stephens picture

Anne Stephens is a Primary Care Physician at Campus Health Services, and also a “lifer” at UNC. She’s been a part of this institution since her undergraduate degree, through her medical degree, residency, and first jobs providing primary care and serving as program director for the combined internal medicine pediatric residency program. She joined the providers at Campus Health last year.

“I enjoy caring for older adolescents and young adults. In particular, the transition from a pediatric model where the parents are highly involved to a model where the patient becomes responsible for his or her own health excites me,” Dr. Stephens said. Campus Health centers, such as CHS provide a unique opportunity to work with many folks who are at that transitional stage. Dr. Stephens and the other providers at CHS often assist students in becoming wise health care consumers. “The students here are always eager to learn,” she said.

Teaching accomplishments

Dr. Stephens is an educator at heart. When asked about the job she would be doing if she were not a doctor she said “teacher” without a moment’s hesitation. Instead, she’s woven teaching into her medical career. She spent 4 years working as residency program director, a stressful and demanding job that had Dr. Stephens supporting residents during a stressful time in their academic careers. “I loved being able to help young doctors learn life skills to become well trained physicians who can contribute and have a personal and professional life balance too.” In that role, Dr. Stephens developed curriculum with the residents to train UNC medical students about the unique needs of the older adolescent population and especially those with chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma. “Going from a pediatric model to being on one’s own can make patients feel very vulnerable,” Dr. Stephens noted. The program supported patients in better understanding their disease, medication options, warning signs that the illness is worsening, the health care system overall, and insurance.

Campus Health has a similar program for students with diabetes and is considering expanding to students with other chronic illnesses. Dr. Stephens mentioned, “we would identify students as they first arrive at UNC with a chronic illness who might benefit from more support such as being connected with a provider with expertise in the patient’s illness.”

Brain, Body Connection

Helping patients improve is the goal of all doctors, and Dr. Stephens takes this goal one step further. “Helping patients understand the link between physical symptoms like fatigue or stomach problems and mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can connect folks with therapy or medication to treat the underlying issue,” she said. “It can really help people feel a lot better.”  Campus Health provides such mental health treatment just upstairs from the medical clinics, in Counseling and Psychological Services. The physical proximity between CAPS and CHS medical providers allows ease in connecting patients between these services. 

When asked to give students health advice, Dr. Stephens connected her experience with older adolescents transition to being the primary person responsible for their health and her knowledge of the brain and body connection. “I would recommend students be proactive about their health,” she said. “Develop healthy habits – especially when considering the stress students face – to live a healthy lifestyle. Use the great services here – primary care, CAPS, Student Wellness, and Campus Recreation to find your own way to manage stress.”

For Dr. Stephens, taking her own advice means figuring out how manage the crazy life of being a doctor and mother to three kids. Some of her stress management includes getting outside for trail runs or biking the country roads around Chapel Hill. She calls it a “vacation on a bike.” She also noted that if she could have any superpower, it would be infinite patience. “What could I not do? Even if I couldn’t physically do something, it would be ok because of patience.”

Come See for Yourself

Dr. Stephens works in the primary care clinic on the first floor of Campus Health Services.