Meet the Doctor: Antonio Funches, MD
Antonio Funches, MD, is a family medicine doctor who sees patients at Einstein Primary Medicine at Wadsworth Avenue in Philadelphia. He is board certified in family medicine.
We spoke to Dr. Funches recently about his career, his interests, and family medicine at Einstein Health Network.
Q: Why did you decide to become a doctor?
A: I’ve always had a love for the sciences growing up. I thought I would either be a marine biologist or a veterinarian. However, my mom had a health scare when I was in my teens. We were living in a very rural area in Mississippi. The nearest city with a hospital was about 25 minutes away. So it took a while for them to get to us. I remember that feeling of helplessness, not knowing what to do. That had a big impact on me.
Mom is OK, but it was very scary. What do you do when your caretaker passes out and is unresponsive and you’re feeling helpless? Shortly after that, I started thinking about going into medicine and never having to face a situation like that again without knowing how to help.
Q: Tell us about your educational background:
A: I went to Xavier University in New Orleans for my undergraduate degree. I was there when Hurricane Katrina hit. During the school’s downtime, I transferred to Brown University until Xavier could open again. I got the best of both worlds. And then I went to Howard University College of Medicine in Washington for medical school. From there, I did my residency at Lancaster General Hospital Penn Medicine in Pennsylvania.
Q: Why did you choose your specialty?
A: Going into medical school, I think I was like many people who think they want to take the surgical route. You know, something spectacular that was going to wow people. But I did my surgical rotation and did not enjoy it. It was my third year of medical school when I realized family medicine was the best place for me. I like the continuity of care. Seeing pediatrics all the way up to geriatrics: that really spoke to me.
Q: Would you like to share why surgery didn’t click with you?
A: It was good in terms of immediate gratification. You get to see your patient do well, but after that, with the exception of some follow-up, you lose contact with them. I wanted something where I could follow a person over their lifetime.
Q: What are your clinical interests?
A: I particularly like preventative medicine. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I like helping people focus on preventing things before they get bad. I also like men’s health and sports medicine.
Q: What drew you to Einstein?
I wanted to be in an academic center, a teaching hospital. And I wanted to specifically work with the African-American population. I’m African-American, and I feel we don’t have as much representation in the medical field. It was important for me to go somewhere where my patients could have an African-American doctor. Historically, there has been mistrust on both sides at times, and that’s one of the things that has created some disparities in care.
I didn’t know much about Einstein at the time. I did my research and became impressed with what Einstein was doing. I like the mission, the focus on patients, and the focus on the community. That all aligned with my values.
Q: You mentioned your desire to be a doctor for the African-American population. Do African-American patients seek you out for that reason?
A: Yes. As I’ve been establishing patients at this office, they’ve said that aloud. Growing up, I didn’t see many African-American doctors. Sometimes there are cultural differences and communication differences that can lead to misunderstandings or not trusting what their physician is saying. That then leads to low compliance or noncompliance with the doctor’s advice. I’ve had patients say, “I didn’t tell the other doctor this, but I feel like I can tell you.”
I make myself available and open to everybody, of course, but I know that as an African-American, there are some specific things I could bring to the table for my African-American patients.
Q: Why should people choose Einstein for their care?
A: Einstein focuses not just on the patient, but also on the communities that the patient is coming from, and wanting to understand how that affects their health. Einstein has drawn some of the greatest minds in medicine. We have great physicians at the hospital and partnering clinics. My colleagues really do care about their patients. I think you want to go to a place where education is at the forefront, where there are improvements in the quality of care, and where there is a focus on the community.
Q; Who was an early role model for you?
A: My older sister is a family medicine physician. We have the same background and I felt if she can do it, I can do it. She talked me through some of the things I was going through and became a role model for me in that sense. To see her become a doctor inspired me.
Q: Is there any person you would like to meet? It could be a living person or a historical figure.
A: I would like to make this a little bit fun and say I would like to meet my future self. Maybe the 60-year-old version of myself, just to ensure that I’m not taking anything for granted and that I’m living every day to the fullest, doing the best I can for my patients, myself and my family. I think meeting my future self would keep a fire under me to continue pursuing improvements in my life and for my patients.
Q: What are your interests outside of work?
A: I enjoy fitness. I am a bit of a gym rat. I also love the outdoors, getting outside for hiking and biking. I enjoy music and I’m becoming more of a foodie. I am learning how to cook.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: I like Laws of Human Nature by Robert Green. It’s about trying to understand your fellow humans. That’s always been a passion of mine: trying to understand people so I can have empathy.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Since these can also be password questions, maybe I’ll go with my second favorite. It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic with a great message about never taking your life for granted. Even at a young age, I started to grasp that. You never really know how going through your “normal” day might be making a difference in another person’s life.
Q: Do you have a favorite sports team?
A: I’m a Saints fan, so, “Geaux Saints!”
Q: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
A: A trip I took to Zanzibar, Tanzania, was one of the most memorable I’ve taken. It’s beautiful over there.
Q; What is something that people might not know about you?
A: I think among my friends and family, I may have created a persona of sort of a city slicker, but at heart I am very much still from the country. I love the countryside and rural areas. I still dream of having a small farm, raising my own animals, and growing my own food.
Learn more about primary care at Einstein.