Physician Profile: Dr. Shajahan

Meeting patients where they are, providing care in the digital age

We have all heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” Asha Shajahan, M.D. believes in a similar philosophy. She studies the impacts our surroundings have on our health, understanding the social determinants and cultural dexterity. So, we are what we find in our surroundings.

“My training was with an underserved population on the east side of Detroit,” Dr. Shajahan said. “I believe in meeting patients where they are and getting them what they need.”

Working with her patients, Dr. Shajahan noticed many of them lacked access to quality foods and safe outdoor exercise areas. She noticed many of their medical issues were directly related to their environments and socioeconomic status.

Since then, Dr. Shajahan has focused on community medicine and implementing it in residency programs to help new physicians pay more attention to social determinants. She sees how the environment and stress impact health.

“It’s more than just genetics,” she said.

Dr. Shajahan came to Beaumont, Grosse Pointe nearly five years ago to pursue an academic opportunity at the hospital. She now serves as the medical director of Community Health and hosts the award-winning Beaumont HouseCall podcast with Chief Medical Officer Nick Gilpin, D.O. She was also a graduate of the Beaumont Physician Leadership Academy this year.

Dr. Shajahan has noticed a surprising change in the field in how many doctors are now reverting to how medicine was originally practiced outside the hospital in homes and communities.

“Doctors used to come to homes to see patients who were ill before there were clinics, but there is emphasis back on meeting patients where they are with mobile units, home visits, home health, telehealth and home hospice,” she said.

Seeing the importance of the social determinants and digital media as it relates to the patient experience, Dr. Shajahan began a two-week elective for residents this year called Social Equity Medicine, which combined her two areas of expertise: community medicine and new media. She brought in experts who gave lectures on topics ranging from unconscious bias to human trafficking and exposed residents to modern media tools, such as blogs, videos and podcasts.

“It was a very different model of education for the residents,” Dr. Shajahan said. “It focuses on experiential learning outside the walls of the hospital.”

The elective is a permanent fixture for those seeking to enroll. The next session begins in April and will be open to Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine students as well as Beaumont residents.

If Dr. Shajahan chose not to be a physician, she said she would have liked to get into politics and work as a policy maker. She was a senior health care intern for former Governor Jennifer Granholm and worked for former U.S. Senator Carl Levin in Washington D.C.

Perhaps that is in her future. But for now, she is working diligently to provide the highest quality of care, utilizing her extensive knowledge in outside factors to health.

Beaumont, Grosse Pointe is proud to be represented by such a strong, dedicated physician.

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