Dr. Terry Moy-Brown witnessed considerable illness and poverty as a child growing up in Honduras. In this Central American country, access to good health care remains poor, particularly in rural areas. Many children lose their parents prematurely and infant mortality is still a considerable problem. Families often do not have access to preventive health care or sufficient support to manage long-term conditions. Her own mother faced a significant health crisis when Dr. Moy-Brown was only 8 years old.
“From an early age, I had the sense that being healthy was the foundation that allowed people to do everything else they wanted to do or achieve in life—be a mom, play sports, get an education, or accomplish other life goals,” she said. “Good health gives us the ability to pursue our dreams and gives us a longer time to do so. That really struck me and led me to pursue a career in medicine.”
Dr. Moy-Brown started exploring the medical field while she was attending a dual-language high school. She volunteered as a translator for U.S physicians visiting on medical missions. She continues to have an interest in caring for underserved communities and those experiencing violence or natural disasters. Dr. Moy-Brown volunteered after the Oklahoma City bombing and in Moore, Oklahoma, after a powerful EF5 tornado ravaged the town. She also provided disaster relief in Miami, Florida, during multiple hurricane seasons.
“I want to be involved with efforts that are making a significant difference in people’s lives,” she said.
After graduating, Dr. Moy-Brown was fortunate to be able to continue her education in the U.S., earning a bachelor of science in biology and a master’s in public health. She then went on to receive her medical degree from Nova Southeastern University in South Florida, and completed her residency in emergency medicine in Oklahoma City.
The ability to handle all kinds of emergencies and stabilize the patient in their time of crisis drew her to the specialty.
“Regardless of what issue my patients faced or when they faced it, I was there and able to help them,” she said.
She practiced as an emergency physician in New York state before coming to the Pacific Northwest. Now a physician in Vancouver Clinic’s Urgent Care Department, Dr. Moy-Brown, 43, sees daily how the care she and her colleagues provide fills an important gap—giving people the quick aid or reassurance they need without a trip to the ER.
“Whether they are concerned about their own personal health issue or their child or family member is ill or injured, we can see them when they need it even after hours,” she said. “We are the safety net.”
Dr. Moy-Brown draws on her breadth of experiences, and sometimes her fluency in Spanish, to put patients and families at ease. Developing a quick rapport allows her to discover what is worrying people and helps them to open up about their symptoms and health.
“I’ve lived on both coasts and in the Heartland, worked in rural emergency medicine, and worked in inner cities. As long as patients are open with me, I can connect with pretty much anyone,” she said.
Working in the Urgent Care Department means Dr. Moy-Brown’s days are full, fast, and bursting with the unexpected, but she wouldn’t change it for anything.
“Helping people return to health and be able to live their lives is what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “It’s gratifying to be able to make a difference.”