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Balcones Woods Family Medicine patients receive an e-newsletter 3-4 times a year with up-to-date medical articles written by our very own practitioners. Below is an article from our latest edition! Click the Sign Up Now box below if you would like to be added to our mailing list.

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To see a copy of the latest e-newsletter from May, click here.

Summer Sun Protection by Dr. Koren Weston

Summer is coming, which means more activity outside and more exposure to sunshine!  The sun helps our mood, helps us sleep, gives us vitamin D, and small amounts can help with eczema, wound healing and other minor skin conditions. But too much sun can cause sunburns, photoaging (pigmentation and wrinkles), and skin cancer!

The best way to protect our skin and avoid excess sun exposure is to find shade or wear protective clothing (hats, shirts with UV protection etc.). About 20 minutes of sun exposure 3 times a week is generally enough to get adequate Vitamin D and still avoid the harmful effects of the sun. After that, if you're not able to get to shade or cover up, the safest thing for your skin is to apply sunscreen. We recommend using sunscreens with SPF 15-50. SPF stands for  sun protection factor and is a non-linear measure of how much longer it takes to get a sunburn compared with  not wearing any sunscreen. Ideally reapply every 2 hours (even SPF readings of 70 and above really don't protect any longer than that), and 15-30 minutes  before going out in the sun.

The sunscreen aisle can be overwhelming with all of its choices. But basically there are two main categories of sunscreens:  barrier protection with minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and  organic filters which include avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, etc. The older forms of the barrier creams leave a thick sticky white film over the skin - but newer forms have transformed these thick creams into smaller nanoparticles that leave a smoother, clearer thin film that soaks in more quickly.  

You may have heard comments or read information about the dangers of sunscreen - that the chemical compounds may induce free radicals/ increase risk of cancer, etc. When searching I did not find any studies to substantiate claims that sunscreens can cause increased risk of cancer. Studies do show they reduce risk of sunburn, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Studies also showed that people would have to use many times the usual amounts of sunscreen every day to possibly induce any significant increase in free radicals (cancer inducers). 

For babies under 6 months old, it's best to just keep them away from direct sunlight by using sunshades over the car seats, umbrella shade, etc. Babies and children 6 months and older need sunscreen if they're going to be out in the sun for any significant amount of time. The tear-free barrier creams are generally best for younger children and especially those with more sensitive skin. Hopefully you can enjoy our hot Austin summer and some sunshine (but not too much) this summer!


Happy New Year!

The yearly Medical Home Fee for 2016 is due. Please call the office to make payment arrangements if needed. We now offer flexible and automatic payment plans to make your life easier! 

Click here for more information about the Medical Home Fee. 

Did you know that we are open to new patients? Now is a great time to refer your friends and family!

Now is also a good time to schedule your annual well care. We save several "sick" visits for acute illnesses every day, but this year's flu season is so mild (which of course is wonderful!) that we have more appointments available. Don't forget that you can also schedule through our handy Patient Portal.

Thanks as always for entrusting us with your loved ones' health and well-being (as well as your own!)


Meet Dr. Heselschwerdt


We are happy to welcome Dr. Jessica Heselschwerdt to Balcones Woods Family Medicine. She started seeing patients in July and is a wonderful addition to our group. Dr. Heselschwerdt was born and raised in Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Michigan and attended medical school at Wayne State School of Medicine in Detroit. She decided to leave the north for the warmer climate of Texas and recently completed her residency in Family Medicine at UT Austin. She served as chief resident from 2014-2015. Click here to learn more about Dr. Heselschwerdt. 

Personalized Attention

We generally see 14-18 patients per day per provider, about 35% less than most primary care offices.  We enjoy involving patients in their care through education regarding health concerns and treatment options.

While we have some time constraints, we generally allow 15 minutes for same-day appointments and 30 minutes for most follow-up or chronic issues appointments -- longer than most offices. If we do not address all of your issues and concerns, please let us know as we are happy to schedule another appointment. Additionally, the detailed plan and discussion from your visit will be available within 24 hours in your secure portal. 

Continuing Education

Dr. Hausman-Cohen originally planned to pursue a career in medical research. After obtaining a Masters degree and M.D. from Harvard Medical School, she realized the importance of continuing education and evidence based medicine in delivering outstanding care. Our practice continues with this philosophy, pursuing ongoing education in the spectrum of family and integrative medicine.

Our providers are dedicated to increasing our knowledge base through continuing education and research.  It is not unusual for us to use Up to Date to research the latest information about a disease while the patient is in the exam room. 


Interested in a Healthier Approach?

In addition to prescribing pharmaceuticals, we are also knowledgeable regarding lifestyle changes, vitamins, nutrition, natural or herbal supplements, and other complementary and alternative medicine when there is adequate supportive data.

Many patients take numerous medications to treat cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. There is excellent evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of these medications. We work closely with patients to prevent the progression of these symptoms and to make sure they are at goal. However, we are also happy to work with patients to "get healthy" and reduce, or in some cases eliminate, the need for many of these medications through lifestyle modifications including a plant based diet and other nutritional counseling. 


About Family Medicine and Our Practice

Dr. Sharon Hausman-Cohen, Dr. Lara Hochman, Dr. Jessica Heselschwerdt, and our Family Nurse Practitioners Laurelin Mullins and Charis M. Bearden, are board-certified in Family Medicine. Dr. Koren Weston is dual board-certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.

Family Medicine for physicians is a board-certified specialty requiring three years of residency training after a receiving a medical degree. This training focuses on outpatient medicine. Family Nurse Practitioners are board-certified RNs that return to school to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing, involving advanced learning and intense study. Family Nurse practitioners are trained and certified to perform full evaluations and prescribe medications and treatments in an outpatient setting, under the supervision of a physician.

In addition to being trained in adult medicine and pediatrics, family physicians and family nurse practitioners are trained in dermatology, allergy, gynecology, orthopedics, mental health care, and many other specialties that allow family physicians and nurse practitioners to treat the whole person.

We also offer annuals (including Pap smears) and well checks for all ages. In order to maintain board certification, both family physicians and family nurse practitioners have ongoing stringent continuing education requirements; family physicians are required to complete a minimum of 300 hours every 6 years.

Dr. Weston participates in the full spectrum of family care in our office. Her residency focused more intensely on hospital work. Our differences in training have allowed us to be supportive of each other and offer very broad services that can meet the majority of most family healthcare needs.