Calling herself a family medicine zealot, Renée Crichlow, MD, exudes passion for taking care of patients and providing a continuity of care throughout their lives, in times of sickness and health. She believes that family medicine is the most effective way to build trusting relationships with individuals, multiple generations of families, and the community.
A full-spectrum family medicine physician, Crichlow sees patients at University of Minnesota Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic and North Memorial Health Hospital. She also teaches family medicine residents and forges strong connections with community organizations to help improve health for all.
“I’ve learned as a physician that you have a responsibility to participate in your community,” Crichlow says. After meeting many young patients who are interested in medicine but often lack role models, she started a mentorship program. The Ladder serves students from fourth grade to residency, helping them learn more about health careers and prepare for college and medical school.
The Broadway Family Medicine Clinic shows up for the North Minneapolis community in many other ways. It serves as a nutrition and food resource with the FoodRx program and hosts monthly Community Health and Advocacy Talks to address social determinants of health affecting its neighbors.
When teaching residents and imbuing them with family medicine values, Crichlow stresses the importance of building tight community bonds and nurturing relationships with patients. Such bonds will help them take good care of people from birth to hospice, whether they are focusing on prevention and wellness or challenges and illness.
“This is exactly the place I like to work because being a doctor is like teaching, and I’m teaching people how to engage with patients and develop that therapeutic alliance,” says Crichlow, who is an assistant  director of the North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program. “I want them to understand that they need to see the whole person and their whole experience and try to work with them to get the quality of life that they want.”
Those relationships pay off when Crichlow treats patients in the hospital, bringing comfort and knowledge about their medical history and preferences. And when patients see Crichlow in the clinic, they listen to her advice to take a medication or get a colonoscopy because they trust her and her judgement.
“They’ve seen you, and you created a safe space for someone to trust you,” she adds. “They trust that they will be with you in the long-run. That trust is sacred.”