From the Perspectives newsletter: Dream Job

From the Perspectives newsletter: Dream Job

Dr. Meredith Throop becomes PfP’s first full-time Medical Director

From the 2015 Fall/Winter Perspectives newsletter

Like many children, when Meredith Throop was 6 years old, she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up.

Dr Meredith Throop, Places for People Medical Director“I never deterred from it,” she said. “It was always so fascinating to me, the idea of being a doctor.”

Throop’s childhood dream never diminished, and she chased it through college and medical school.

Dr. Meredith Throop started as Places for People’s first full-time medical director in October 2015.

“I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely thrilled,” Throop said of becoming PfP’s medical director.

PfP’s administration is equally thrilled to have her on board.

“Places for People has taken a huge leap forward in our vision of a high quality provider of holistic and effective integrated primary and behavioral health care,” said Places for People Executive Director Joe Yancey. “We are pleased and extremely excited to welcome Dr. Meredith Throop as Places for People’s first full-time medical director. In this capacity, Dr. Throop will have a major responsibility in leading efforts toward this vision.”

The medical director oversees all integrated medical and psychiatric services at Places for People. Previously, it was a part-time position, most recently filled by Dr. Jaron Asher.

Throop’s own primary care physician was her inspiration to become a doctor. He treated three generations of her family members. “I loved the idea of these doctors having relationships, knowing your family and being a part of everyone growing up and getting older.”

The St. Louis native performed her undergraduate work at Amherst College, then finished her pre-medical training at Columbia University in New York City.

She returned to St. Louis for medical school, attending Saint Louis University. It was during her medical school rotations that Throop found her calling to community-based psychiatry.

“I knew that the ER wasn’t for me,” she said, explaining that never seeing the patients again after an emergency didn’t connect with her.

She was excited for her rotation in family care, but in practice found it a bit repetitive and limiting. “I did the family practice rotation and enjoyed it, but I wasn’t able to go as in depth into patients’ behavioral health as I would have liked.”

Her future came into focus when she performed her psychiatry rotation.

“It just clicked with me. I loved the issues. I loved working with the patients, especially with the underserved population. You get to be creative in that psychiatry is not formulaic. In many ways it is more of an art than a science,” Throop said.

PfP is a training site for psychiatry residents, which provided Throop’s introduction to the organization. PfP has been so fortunate to have a productive, mutually beneficial relationship with SLU. Dr. Mirella Marcu has been the director of the residency program here. She continues in that capacity and brings her passion and years of experience in Community Psychiatry to teaching the psychiatry residents as well as serving as a primary psychiatrist for one of PfP’s four Assertive Community Treatment teams.

As a SLU psychiatry resident, Throop discovered her love for community psychiatry. “I rotated through community psychiatry as every SLU resident does. But I just fell in love with Places for People and what the organization aims to do.”

Throop enjoyed her rotation so much, she had a hard time rotating out, offering her peers a trade to be able to stay at Places for People. She provided psychiatry to Places for People’s intake and outreach teams, and two other treatment teams.

After graduating from SLU, Throop went to work as a psychiatrist through a contractor for the Missouri Department of Corrections. She spent nearly a year working in Potosi and Farmington before starting as Places for People’s medical director in October 2015. She still devotes one day a week to helping with duties for the DOC.

“It’s not a dissimilar population,” she said, explaining that both populations have a history of trauma, neglect, abuse and substance abuse.

When she’s not working, Throop and her husband, Chris, raise two young sons, 4 and 2. She said being a parent has provided a strong foundation for being a manager in her professional life. “I have two little boys; there’s a lot of madness that goes on in my house. You’ve got to run a tight ship, but also be flexible, compassionate, and resilient.”

As a student, Throop spent four months in India, studying traditional healing systems as well as rural medicine. She saw firsthand how differently integrated care was handled. Medical disciplines are not as compartmentalized in the East. “Your mental health and your physical health are one entity, they are intrinsically connected. I believe we are getting better at realizing this in Western medical practice.”

Throop said, “I think that is the key to why we are promoting integration of primary care and behavioral health. We are looking at the ‘big picture’ of what makes up the human being, as opposed to its constituent parts. This is vital.”