Top Doctors 2011 Profile: Michelle Abis, M.D., Internal Medicine in Red Hook

Well-rounded care for all ages


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The number of primary-care physicians like Michelle Abis, M.D., is shrinking across the Valley — and the nation — as more and more doctors opt instead to train for a particular medical specialty.

“Being a primary-care physician is a very challenging, yet rewarding specialty,” Abis says. “Being a jack-of-all-trades means keeping up to date with all subspecialties — which can be difficult, time-wise — especially with the plethora of new medical information being published.” In addition, general practitioners earn far less than their counterparts who specialize. According to a report by the Medical Group Management Association, in 2009 general practitioners earned a median salary of $191,401, as opposed to, say, dermatologists, who earned a median salary of $385,088.

But the pros definitely outweigh the cons, she adds. “On the other hand, it’s rewarding that, as a primary-care physician, you get to know your patient as a whole. You’re involved in all aspects of their health.”

And it’s never dull. “During a typical day, I might deal with everything from a simple upper respiratory tract infection to more complex problems like uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes, chest pain, and more.” Her patients usually range from about 16 years old and up, she says.

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Abis, a board-certified internist, is affiliated with Northern Dutchess Hospital, as well as with Health Quest Medical Practice in Rhinebeck, where she sees patients along with another board-certified physician, Dr. Sharagim Kemp.

A native of the Philippines, Abis grew up in a family of teachers and lawyers, “except for an aunt who was eccentric enough to study chemistry,” she laughs. “I always wanted to be a physician. I suspect it was a result of brainwashing by my grandmother. As a little kid, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, she would prompt me to say, ‘A doctor.’ Then came a time when I said it on my own. I didn’t really consider wanting to do anything else. It was my grandmother’s greatest desire, and it became my goal — which I pursued until it was achieved.”

Abis, 44, graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine and moved to New York City for her internal medicine residency at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. She received accolades there, including an award for Excellence in Academic and Clinical Medicine; she also served as the hospital’s chief resident. “But all that is ancient history,” she says modestly.

She and her husband, Dr. Leopoldo Abis, Jr., also a board-certified general internist, previously practiced at a medical group in laid-back Millinocket, Maine, before moving to the Hudson Valley in 1999. They live in Red Hook with a 14-year-old Shih Tzu named Sammi.

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» Visit Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, NY
» Visit Health Quest Medical Practice in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
» View the complete list of Top Doctors 2011
» Go to the Hudson Valley Health Guide for more doctors in the Hudson Valley, NY

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