From farmer to physician, personal experiences bring doctor full circle

At home on her farm, surrounded by green pastures, Leslie McPherson, MD, takes her time tending to the horses, the garden and her family. As a resident physician at EVMS Ghent Family Medicine, she brings that same patient, yet purposeful, approach into the exam room.

Dr. McPherson grew up in a small town in northeastern North Carolina. After college, she became a teacher, got married and had two children. She was happy. But everything changed when her newborn daughter developed serious health problems.

While she had the same questions for her daughter’s physicians any mother would have, she didn’t believe she was being heard or getting the answers she needed.

In addition, her daughter required frequent trips to specialists more than an hour’s drive away. “Before my daughter was born, I didn’t even realize the lack of medical specialists in my area.”

The discovery inspired her to apply to medical school.

She enrolled at St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, with a plan to eventually practice in her hometown. While taking her Step 1 exam, she had stroke of luck, she says, when she met a doctor from Ghent Family Medicine, who invited her to tour the practice. The people she encountered there were personable and passionate about medicine. “They put their patients first and listened to them,” Dr. McPherson says. “I immediately knew that this was the place for me.”

During her residency at Ghent Family Medicine, Dr. McPherson has seen countless patients and believes in showing them that she cares. “If the trust isn’t there, then I won’t be able to help them.”

She finishes her residency next year and plans to open a clinic in her hometown. “I’m going to offer as much time as each patient needs,” she says. “If they can’t pay with cash, maybe we can barter. Everyone deserves quality medical care.”

While at times Dr. McPherson doubted her journey, especially being away from her children, she felt it was worth it. “I decided it was important for my children to see my struggle and push through to come out successful on the other side.”