The LAFP Member of the Month is a forum to recognize and highlight our members. We hope you enjoy learning about fellow members both on a personal and professional level. LAFP is proud to recognize Danette B. Null, MD as our November 2018 Member of the Month.
Danette B. Null, MD is a graduate of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. She completed her Family Medicine Residency at Naval Hospital Pensacola in Pensacola, FL. She served as a medical officer in the US Navy from 2001 to 2008. In 2004, she joined the teaching faculty of the Naval Hospital Pensacola Family Medicine Residency. During internship, she met and married her husband, Robert Null, who was at Naval Air Station Pensacola completing flight training. When her husband retired after serving 20 years in the US Navy, they moved to Lake Charles to be closer to her family. She is the Associate Program Director at LCMH/LSUHSC-NO FMRP in Lake Charles, LA. She will step into the role of Program Director July 2019. She teaches and practices full spectrum family medicine and is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians, Louisiana State Medical Society, Calcasieu Parish Medical Society, and Christian Medical Dental Association.
Get to Know Dr. Null
How do you spend your free time?
Spending time with my husband and 2 children. On week nights that means homework, dinner, and laundry. On free weekends, we have family night on Fridays—a walk, game of basketball, or a movie. Camping is fun and spending time in the yard trimming bushes, pulling up weeds, or placing mulch is relaxing. I also enjoy learning more about God and who He is.
What advice would you offer to medical students selecting their specialty?
Do what makes your heart come alive. When do you feel at your best or the most excited? Passion and a sense of purpose guard against burnout. We aren’t meant to only be people who work. We were created in a garden where work didn’t exist. I like healing people and calling out the good I see in others. I am not the best at it, but it is fun and life changing when I do it right. I am ever learning more about how to empower others—husband, children, patients, residents, co-workers. Seeing them become all they are meant to be is addictive and draws me in to do it more for others.
Why did you choose family medicine, what’s your favorite aspect of it, and were you inspired by anyone?
I chose Family Medicine because I like taking care of people in all age groups and continuity relationships are very important to me. I like taking care of an entire family—baby, siblings, parents, grandparents. I believe in caring for the whole patient: body, mind, and spirit. I also have a type-A personality. I looked at my various attendings in medical school and liked what I saw in the Family Medicine docs. Many seemed to have set their priorities in an order I appreciated: God, family, patients. I wanted to look like them 20 years later instead of like some of the more driven specialists I observed who did not appear fulfilled or joyful. The family docs appeared to be enjoying their lives and careers.
What is something the “real world” has taught you about being a family physician that medical school didn’t teach you?
Show that you care. Be yourself. No one else sees the world or practices medicine exactly like you do. You have something unique to offer your patients. Pray for your patients. Pray with them. Call them when a family member is sick or a spouse just died. Call the family member (not your patient) when one of your patients dies. Love is being willing to be interrupted and love is by far the best medicine of all.
What has your experience as a LAFP member been like?
I have enjoyed getting to know other Family Medicine physicians from around the state. The LAFP staff is friendly, helpful, and genuine. LAFP is an organization of which I am proud to be a part. I feel good about what they are doing for us as a community of doctors in Louisiana.
Were you inspired by anyone?
My family doctor, Dr. Sauls, in DeRidder, LA, inspired me. He lived just down the road from us. Not only did he make a home visit or two, but he left his 4th of July celebration to meet us at the Emergency Room when my sister fell on a piece of metal and sliced her knee open. He gave me a job at his office during my college summer break because he saw potential in me. He taught me how to measure vitals on his patients, and his lab tech gave me phlebotomy training. He practiced full scope Family Medicine and really enjoyed his work. He gave medicine a name and personality. I will forever be grateful.
What is the most important quality a family physician should have?
Love—love for patients, love for learning, love for wisdom, and love for excellence. You can love people but not be able to synthesize information and use it properly to help people. You can love knowledge yet not love people enough to relate to them or build healing relationships.
How do you balance the demands of career, leadership, family and your own well-being?
I make time for God first. Moments of solitude/quiet are essential each and every day. I do that before anyone else in the house awakens. Each day brings its own set of challenges and unforeseen circumstances. I don’t always balance things as well as I’d like, but I make an effort each day to keep God first, my husband second, my children third, and my work after that. Fifteen minutes of couch time each day with my husband is a must and was reinstated last month when we realized we weren’t consistently doing it! Date night isn’t easy to schedule, but we try for a date once a month. I take off a day of work when the kids have teacher in-service days. This gives us time during the week to be together. I took this advice from a female attending when I was a resident. She told me not to save up all my vacation days to take at once but to take a day here and there to be with my children—see a school performance, hang out for the day, etc. I have cherished that pearl. It’s amazing what one day off every few months can do for you and your family. I don’t miss a mom camping weekend for Girl Scouts (Cub Scouts when my son was younger) even if it means a few call schedule changes. I try to read something in medicine or listen to a pod cast every weekday (that doesn’t always happen but the goal is there). When I’m having a stellar week, I read my medical journal while I exercise on the elliptical in the morning before my quiet time. That tends to happen more in the summer than during the school year (wink). Some days don’t go as planned, yet I get up the next day and try again. Our family ethos is: Never give up. Unity of family. Love always. Live life to the fullest. We have that up in our living room to remind us of who we are--Nulls.
What does true leadership mean to you?
True leadership is finding ways to serve those around you and calling out the best in them. Be the wind that inflates their sails to carry them forward faster and farther than they could go on their own. Most people don’t know the potential that lives inside them. They can’t see it or believe it. We need to recognize it and call it forth and nurture it into maturity.