Abby Isaacs, MD, says she was always interested in combining her love of science and helping others, so pursuing a career in health care seemed like the obvious choice. While still in undergrad, Dr. Isaacs spent time working at a nursing home and witnessed firsthand the impacts of the physician shortage, specifically those practicing primary care, in her hometown of Ashland, Ky. 

Around the same time, she struggled with an eating disorder and sought help from her local primary care physician. She recalls that the physician was well-trained clinically, but simply underprepared to tackle this type of complex psychiatric condition, particularly in an area with limited mental health resources. These combined experiences further cemented her desire to pursue medicine. 

Dr. Isaacs received her MD from the University of Kentucky and is currently in her first year of a combined internal medicine/psychiatry program, a five-year program that leads to certification in both specialties. When asked why she wanted to pursue this program, Dr. Isaacs highlighted the importance of combined training, especially for primary care and mental health specialties. She purports that patients will continue to have combined needs for primary care and mental health, especially those who suffer from disordered eating and body image issues. 

In 2020, 51.5 million people, or 1 in 5 Americans, had a mental illness. Research indicates that number will only continue to rise, so there is an urgent need for providers who can provide complex and innovative care, especially among rural and underserved populations within the Commonwealth. 

Dr. Isaacs hopes to be one of those providers. She plans to stay in Kentucky to practice after residency and continues to be motivated by her passion for helping others. She wants to “be the doctor I could not find when I needed someone.” 

Dr. Isaacs noted that residency has been a lot of responsibility compared to medical school and clinical rotations, but her favorite thing about it is “finally being someone’s doctor.” She enjoys being able to interact with patients directly and looks forward to practicing psychotherapy with patients in the future. 

Her advice to future physicians? “Find the thing you’re truly passionate about and go for it, even if nobody else is doing it yet.” 

Dr. Isaacs and her husband recently purchased a home in Lexington where they plan to continue to practice medicine in their home state of Kentucky. When she’s not working on home repair projects, Dr. Isaacs enjoys spending time with her German shepherd, learning Spanish, and practicing recreational gymnastics.