Our Voices of Veritas blog series will highlight our staff by sharing their personal and professional journeys in this specialty field to build honest, insightful conversation around eating disorders. Our first interview is with Dr. Preeti Matkins, the Executive Director of the Veritas Collaborative Charlotte treatment center.
From an early age, Dr. Preeti Matkins knew she wanted to be a physician, she just didn’t know what kind. In medical school, she rotated through a few different specialties including pediatrics, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and psychiatrics. After falling in love with treating children and adolescents who had suffered abuse, pediatrics became an obvious choice. In adolescent medicine and abuse treatment, physicians work collaboratively by drawing upon the experience of other experts in their multidisciplinary teams–a methodology she truly believes in.
In 2010, Dr. Matkins began dedicating her general practice time to adolescent medicine and teaching residents and medical students about eating disorders. However, her ability to focus on eating disorders gradually decreased as she took on other roles in the residency program. Eager to get back to doing what she loved, Dr. Matkins made the decision in 2015 to fully devote her professional life to the treatment of eating disorders and to uncover the many motivations individuals have for seeking treatment. She finds the most rewarding aspect of her work to be contributing to the collaborative care environment inherent in multidisciplinary teams and more specifically, the impact that collaboration has on the parents of her patients.
Dr. Matkins is inspired by the frank honesty with which her teenage and young adult patients speak as well as their genuine openness to feedback and advice. In her experience, she has found that adolescent patients, as compared to those of a younger or older population, trust more readily and are therefore often willing to make changes that they had not initially agreed with. Despite all of this, she has seen far more than a few of her patients get “stuck” as they struggle with their families to comprehend the serious, sinister nature of the disease. Overcoming this challenge is not a simple nor straightforward task; however, it is one that Dr. Matkins embraces with compassion and resolve.
As a physician working in a field that is being continuously and rapidly shaped by research, Dr. Matkins’ philosophy on eating disorders treatment is simply that they are treatable. This philosophy blatantly contradicts what she believes to be the most common misconception about eating disorders: the belief that in order for an individual struggling with the disease to be helped at all, he/she has to be ready to begin treatment. This is not the case. According to Dr. Matkins, parents can begin treatment in the home even before the individual struggling with an eating disorder is willing to recognize or acknowledge that a problem exists. It is for this reason that Veritas Collaborative believes in treating not just the child, but the whole family, as the entire unit is impacted by the eating disorder.
At Veritas, the family unit is in treatment together.
It is Dr. Matkins’ hope that as time goes on, more and more primary care physicians will become knowledgeable about eating disorder diagnosis and treatment options. Additionally, she stresses the need for continued communication between an individual’s primary care provider and their eating disorder treatment team.
The biggest need for the eating disorder community is access to care.
In the future, Dr. Matkins would like to see an eating disorder specific requirement for medical school and residency programs in hopes that clinicians outside of the eating disorder field will be able to recognize and refer patients for treatment. Additionally, she looks forward to the day when it is common knowledge that eating disorders are not a choice, not the fault of the parent(s), nor the result of a weak family structure. All things considered, Dr. Matkins is changing the conversation around eating disorders by creating a space where there is less focus on blame and more focus on treatment.
There should be no shame or blame because eating disorders are not a choice, but a disease.
For more information on medical outpatient treatment as well as nutrition and therapy for your loved one, please reach out to the Veritas Collaborative Admissions Department at 919-908-9740 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us at one of our four locations (Durham, NC, Richmond, VA, Atlanta, GA, and we’re now accepting patients in Charlotte, NC), and we’ll guide you through the process of care.