By Mercy's Todd Nighswonger
Nothing about Dr. Amanda Andrade’s background provides even a hint that she’d one day move to Joplin to be a Mercy physician.
Growing up in Kingman, Arizona, Dr. Andrade knew from a young age that she wanted to help people. In high school, she made the decision to go into pre-med in college and originally thought she wanted to be a pediatrician.
Still, the Midwest was not on her mind until she applied for and was accepted to Kansas City University of Bioscience and Medicine in 2007. It was the first time she had been to this part of the country.
“Coming from the desert, I loved the trees, the seasons, the people and the different pace of life,” she recalled.
Ten years later with a medical degree, residency and her first full-time physician role under her belt, Dr. Andrade joined Mercy Clinic Family Medicine – Jackson Street in June. She moved from the Los Angeles area because a return to the Midwest was beckoning.
“I was drawn back by the pace of life,” she said. “I’m excited to be in Joplin and to be a part of the community.”
Why Mercy and Joplin? Part of the credit goes to Dr. Justin Dillingham, who was in medical school in Kansas City the same time as Dr. Andrade. The two were introduced by friend Caleb Downing, now her husband.
“He was my biggest connection to Joplin and I saw how happy he is here with his work-life balance,” she said of Dr. Dillingham. Both are in the same practice with Dr. Anne Maxey. “I like Mercy’s philosophy and its Catholic emphasis on the dignity of the individual.”
Dr. Andrade brings to Mercy an approach to patient care honed from serving inner-city families in Los Angeles and volunteering at free medical clinics in Honduras, Tanzania, Mexico, Kansas City and the Bronx area of New York City.
She moved to LA after her residency at Via Christi in Wichita to be closer to family and to experience working in a clinic that serves mostly underserved, uninsured and predominantly Hispanic patients. Many times, she would treat multiple generations in the same family.
“It was a very valuable experience,” she said. “Being a community clinic, I learned more about patients than just seeing them in the clinic. I would go to patients’ homes to check on them. I gained a perspective about what underserved people face and how it affects their health and family dynamics.
“It grew my compassion for people and understanding the obstacles they face. It was very humbling and helped me learn to be less likely to judge others.”
That perspective has helped Dr. Andrade’s approach to medicine that promotes wellness and not just treating ailments and diseases.
“I like to see people restored to wholeness,” she said. “I encourage people to take control of their health and modify things in their life that will make them healthier and reduce the amount of medications they need.”
Dr. Andrade is also bilingual and looks forward to treating patients of all ages, including those who speak Spanish.
“It comes down to I just really want to love on people, who are made in the image of God,” she said. “I see the value in individuals and want to ease people’s suffering.
“Medicine is a door to being involved in people’s lives.”