UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Avery, Richel Zayas MD

School of Medicine
Family & Community Medicine

Dr. Richel Avery, an Assistant Professor/Clinical, is a Family Physician who cares for patients and teaches medical students at the UT Health Primary Care Clinic MARC. Dr. Avery earned her M.D. from Dr. Jose P. Rizal College of Medicine, Xavier University, in the Philippines. She completed her Family Medicine residency at UT Health San Antonio?s Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Avery is board certified in Family Medicine and Obesity Medicine. Her passions are helping patients live healthier lifestyles and remain active throughout their lives. Dr. Avery faced challenges early on in life. She lost her parents at a young age and was left to raise her younger siblings with limited resources. While faced with difficult constraints, she chose to continue to pursue education and take care of her family at the same time. She had to work nights and attend school during the day. Her life experiences strengthened her character and made her a more resilient, determined and confident person. She earned a full academic scholarship in one of the top universities in the country where she completed a Bachelor?s degree in Nursing and later received her Medical degree on a full scholarship as well. After completing her studies, Dr. Avery joined a non-profit organization that provided health care services to indigent residents of the city and surrounding providences and became the Tuberculosis Department Head treating patients with tuberculosis and leading the clinic?s effort to lower down the prevalence of TB in the city. In 2005, Dr. Avery moved to the US where she worked as an Emergency Room nurse while preparing for her USMLE exams to enter residency. In 2010, she matched with UT Health San Antonio?s Family Medicine residency and was selected as the Most Outstanding First Year Resident on her internship year. Dr. Avery?s strong clinical, interpersonal, and teaching skills led to her being selected as Chief Resident during her final year. During her residency, she completed scholarly projects and presented in national conferences on research projects regarding colonoscopy screenings, cognitive impairment in geriatric patients and contributed to a TAFP grant to address childhood obesity. After completing her residency, she joined the UT Health Primary Care Clinic at the MARC. As faculty Dr. Avery taught 3rd year medical students and conducted quality improvement projects to improve care for the patients in the clinic. She worked with the clinic?s team to achieve recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH). She completed and disseminated a quality improvement project on establishing medical assistant protocols for conducting comprehensive well-child visits and screenings. She partnered with the epic team and developed age specific EMR templates for EPIC to be used by primary care providers in the whole PCC. She runs a medical weight management program alongside her practice at the MARC. She completed her certification in Obesity Medicine in 2017 and managed the care of paints with overweight and obesity using pharmacological therapy including patients before and after bariatric surgery. She receives referrals from surgeons and other specialists, providers in the primary care clinic and other doctors in the community. In 2018, Dr. Avery was appointed the Associate Medical Director at the UT Primary Care Clinic at the MARC. In this role, she helps facilitate team building, improve workflow to enhance efficiency, and implement initiatives in the clinic to improve delivery of patient care. She was part of the clinic?s team when it first obtained PCMH accreditation in 2015 and helped in the efforts to implement clinic strategies to continue and maintain this accreditation. She assisted in developing workflows that impact Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) and together with her team has developed processes involving the frontline staff - medical assistants and providers along with the quality team and technology team to improve quality of care by closing gaps in care and achieving quality metrics. She assisted in designing workflows that involve imbedded care coordinators in the clinic specifically in transition of care for patients who were recently discharged from the hospitals or the ER and bridge them back to their primary care physician. In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she helped her team continue to care for patients for both acute and chronic problems by transitioning very quickly to telemedicine. The clinic was able to maintain daily slot utilization for clinicians above 80% while other clinics went down less than 50%. With UT Health resuming clinical activities at the MARC, she helped create a plan to be able to see more in person visits without having to compromise safety for patients and staff. Together with the clinic leadership and input from the team (staff and clinicians) they were able to craft a strategy to re-organize space and personnel, increase slot utiliz

8/2018 - Present Associate Medical Director UT Health Primary Care Clinic MARC, Family & Community Medicine, San Antonio, TX
7/2013 - Present Assistant Professor/Clinical and Faculty Physician UT Health San Antonio, Family & Community Medicine, San Antonio, TX