A Conversation with...
Peter McConarty, MD, Former Residency Director
UMass Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency
Dr. Peter McConarty smiles when asked when he first realized medicine was his calling. "In the eighth grade, they asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to be a doctor.....it must have been in the water in Framingham!" The Massachusetts native spent his formative years in Whitman, Easton and Framingham, graduating from Framingham South High School before majoring in Biology at Harvard College, Class of 1969.
Upon graduation, Dr. McConarty attended medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. In 1973, he began his residency with the first residency class admitted to the Family Practice Residency of University of California at San Francisco General Hospital.
"At the time I had decided I was interested in public health and primary care and San Francisco was one of the innovative primary care settings dedicated to serving those people who needed access to care," he explains.
Completing his training in 1976, Dr. McConarty precepted students at his old program for six months before accepting a full-time position as a Staff Physician at Potrero Hill Health Center in San Francisco, where he would remain for the next seven years. After an additional year practicing in San Diego, Dr. McConarty re-located back to Massachusetts in 1985 where he served as Medical Director of the Family Health and Social Service Center (now the Family Health Center of Worcester.)
It was in 1987 that he arrived at the UMass Fitchburg Family Medicine Residency.
"There were only three faculty here at the time...I was the fourth," he recalls. "We had six residents." Dr. McConarty was promoted to serve as both Medical Director and Residency Program Director in 1991, a post he would hold for a full decade before turning the reins over to Dr. Beth Mazyck in 2001.
Asked what he values about being a physician, Dr. McConarty pauses for a moment. "I value collaborative care in the service of underserved populations. I value relationship and continuity." He also expresses surprise that the pace of health care reform efforts has not progressed as fast as he once assumed but notes, "I think working in a community health center all this time is hopefully being part of the solution."
Dr. McConarty is the father of two sons and a daughter who recently completed her residency training in Primary Care Internal Medicine in Providence. He doesn't hesitate when asked how he enjoys his spare time. "Spending my time with Annie," he says of his wife of several years.
Living in Fitchburg, close enough to CHC that he could walk to work, he closes with a final thought about a career spent mentoring, precepting and above all, teaching tomorrow's family medicine physicians. "This process of working with patients and working with residents is really all about education. And so, in the end....it isn't like two different jobs at all."