Faculty Spotlight: Satasuk "Joy" Bhosai, MD, MPH

Friday, January 24, 2020

Satasuk "Joy" Bhosai, MD, MPH, is a hospitalist and clinical instructor at Duke Raleigh Hospital. You may not know that Dr. Bhosai has other roles, serving as the "Chief of Digital Health and Strategy" for the Duke Clinical Research Institute and the "Associate Director" for Innovations in Healthcare, part of the Duke Global Health Institute.  We think you'll find her story especially inspiring.

What brought you to Duke?

I was part of the Duke Management and Leadership Pathway for Residents (MLPR), a non-traditional path incorporating medical training with leadership experiences. This pathway allowed me to pursue projects in digital health and patient safety. At the time, there were only two programs in the country offering such a program. Arriving at Duke I was amazed by the caliber of faculty and the warmth of the culture here. 

What are your interests in the field?

Health technology and global health

How did you become interested in medicine?

My parents started nursing homes for adults with developmental disabilities when I was in elementary school. We actually lived in the first nursing home when they were starting out. Day-to-day, I learned a lot about the importance of caring for adults with special needs and developed an appreciation for all the hard work my parents put into it. They valued team members from all walks of life — from doctors, daycare drivers, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, etc. My dad immigrated to the US from Thailand and did not graduate high school, but he worked tirelessly to develop a meaningful healthcare profession. I am thankful to have seen, from an early age, the value of commitment in health and how anyone — no matter what background — can contribute to providing care for patients.

How did you get into this specific field?

I love hospital medicine — the team aspects of it, the sense of community in a hospital, and being able to address health needs for patients and work to resolve them before they are discharged home is rewarding. I went to medical school at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where leadership in hospital medicine is strong and the term "hospitalist" was coined. I admired the skill sets of hospitalists early on in medical school ever since then. It's a field where you can bridge interests in caring for the patient as a whole and have ample opportunity to help out with health system initiatives.

"It's a field where you can bridge interests in caring for the patient as a whole and have ample opportunity to help out with health system initiatives."

Is there any research you are doing or plan on doing?

I am committed to the field of digital health and technology as it relates to improving health outcomes for patients. Early on in my career, I was part of a research team in Tanzania that received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant that enabled us to incorporate technology in the field to help us with the day-to-day operations of our health initiative. I fell in love with technology then, as it became apparent how cost-effective, efficient, and instrumental these tools were in helping us deliver quality care for patients. I currently work with a number of health technology groups that are working to address gaps in care for patients. I am highly committed to improving access to care for patients. 

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

I love to paint, go to art shows, kayak, standup paddle, and hike. My husband (Dr. Stephen Acosta, UNC Anesthesiology) was a former mountain rescue EMT before he became an anesthesiologist so we find ourselves outdoors a lot! 

Any trips you've taken recently that you would like to share?

I'm traveling out of the country nearly every other month for work or fun. Last month, I was in Brazil to help implement a web portal and mobile application to transition a large health system from paper tools to digital. It was such a treat to be in Brazil because it combines a melting pot of European, Latin American, and Asian cultures. Our hosts were just so kind and warm. For fun, Stephen and I went to Aruba and to Thailand to visit my family. We are also headed to Puerto Rico to visit Stephen's family this winter. 

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I have one rib missing. 

What is your favorite food? 

Thai! Nothing beats my dad's home cooking. 

What is your favorite restaurant? 

We have a lot of favorites but we love Vin Rouge for Dinner and Brewery Bhavana for brunch.