Christine "Chris" Hughes

Career Story: 

This is rather long. Please bear with me as my career has had lots of twists and turns.After completing residency in 1984, I moved to rural Idaho in Jerome and practiced the whole scope of family practice including obstetrics (but not C-sections). I opened a Women's Health Center in association with the University of Utah which was studying the use of progesterone in treating severe pre-menstrual syndrome.Several years later I moved to Los Angeles and practiced emergencu medicine. Later I moved to Albuquerque, NM, practicing emergency medicine and HMO medicine and met my future husband, Jim. We traveled around the country looking for the ideal place to move to in the U.S. (including the Hawaiian islands), and settled on Charlotte, North Carolina (city of the trees) where we lived for 13 years. I became Chief of Family Medicine and Urgent care for Kaiser Permanente and spent some time mentoring family medicine residents at the Carolinas Medical Center program. After 8 years, I had a yearning to practice a more holistic side of medicine (which drew me to medical school in the first place) and eventually completed the UCLA Medical Acupuncture course. I joined a local hospital and started the first hospital-based Integrative Medicine Center in the southeast United States. I practiced predominately acupuncture and went to many conferences to learn more about environmental and molecular based medicine which allowed me to see more patients with chronic medical conditions who had failed allopathic conventional treatment approaches (irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, migraines, peptic ulcer disease, gastro-esophageal reflux, chronic fatigue, cancer, etc.).The hospital lost interest in the Center as we were not turning a significant profit. I broke off into solo private practice and quickly began looking for a partner to join me as my waiting list of new patients grew longer. During those years no one wanted to leave the security of managed care. However, the practice was deeply satisfying given we were helping so many people who had totally given up over their debilitating conditions -- but it became draining to be alone in solo practice with significant overhead expenses. My husband and I missed traveling and barely had time for any vacation.One day I was flipping thru a family medicine journal and saw an ad that said, "Do you miss traveling?" II nodded my head "yes". The ad said "why not join the Foreign Service?" I hardly knew what the Foreign Service was but jumped at the opportunity. Long story short, I interviewed with the Department of State and in 2004 I launched a new career as a Regional Medical Officer and never turned back. The career has been adventurous and allows one to work independently while over- seeing large geographic areas often involving several countries.My first assignment was Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the height of the terrorism (and yes, even diplomatic women have to wear abayas). The post had decreased it size and did not allow family members, so I had to go alone. My husband proudly says," it was too dangerous for him to go." I was covering the Consulate in Jeddah when it was attacked by terrorists and 5 people were killed, 10 other people were seriously injured. Dealing with these kinds of events were a wake up call about living outside the comfort of the U.S.A Regional Medical Officer oversees a region and although based in Riyadh, I traveled the 2 consulates in Saudi Arabia as well as Doha, Qatar; Manama, Bahrain; and Kuwait seeing American diplomats, their family members and providing occupational medicine for the local national employees. After 1 year in the Magic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia., Jim and I reunited in New Delhi, India where we spent 3 years. I traveled around a larger region of Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Hyderabad, and Colombo, Sri Lanka. We also did a lot of other travel around India including Ladakh, as well as Bhutan, Sikkim, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. (Did I say we liked to travel?). India is a roller coaster of diversity and color, though it's not everyone's cup of tea. We were fortunate in being able to immerse ourselves into the culture and made many friends.After India, we moved to San Salvador in 2008 and worked on our Spanish. I now oversee 7 countries in Central America including Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and El Salvador. I will be moving on to another part of the world during summer 2011 (location yet to be determined via a bidding process). I still practice some Integrative Medicine, which I view as combining the best of alternative and the best of conventional medicine. If anyone is interested in a Foreign Service career please feel free to email me. Many docs have joined mid or late career.

Notable Personal Accomplishments: 

Keeping a sense of humor.

Notable Professional Accomplishments: 

Promotion to Senior Foreign Service.

Favorite Recreational Activity: 

Swimming, hiking, meditation.

Favorite Memory from Residency: 

Standing on Moynihan's shoulders at the graduation party.

Personal Story: 

Happily married to Jim.