Just Say “Ahhh”
The feeling one gets when arriving at Dr. Devan Szczepanski’s office is like coming home. From the outside, patients see an Acadian cottage—a nod to her Cajun heritage. Stepping inside reveals soothing, muted green walls dotted with artworks. An aromatherapy diffuser sprays therapeutic essential oils as relaxing spa music wafts through the air. The chandelier, a graduation gift from her grandmother, provides gentle lighting. While waiting rooms tend to make patients restless, Dr. Szczepanski’s unorthodox office provides an serene escape—fitting for this physician whose practice includes both traditional and non-traditional “lifestyle” medicine.
Growing up in Lafayette, young Devan Guidry spent time living with her grandmother who operated a boarding house for elderly individuals with Alzheimer’s. She has vivid memories of her early childhood as a young girl helping Mimi take care of the “ol’ folks” which often included everything from feeding to changing diapers. These early experiences instilled the gift of nurturing in Devan.
Her grandmother was also a big proponent of healthy eating. The family lived on an emu farm and many meals included the large birds’ freshly laid eggs, much to Devan’s chagrin. “Ironically,” she laughs, “in my current practice, I now extol the medicinal merits of emu oils.”
Devan is proudly the product of a very modest upbringing as her father has worked offshore since the age of 18. Through him, she learned that hard work is the way to success—a lesson she deems far more valuable than any college degree. Her parents sacrificed much to ensure their children’s attendance at Lafayette’s best schools. They also taught her the importance of accepting others without judgment and treating everyone as family. She says these values have shaped her practice and relationships with both patients and staff.
Upon graduating high school, Devan began her studies at the LSU Honors College in Baton Rouge with a focus on a medical career. But at the age of 18, her parents tasked her with financial independence. Initially, she was angered by that decision, which meant a change of plans to a degree in psychology with a minor in business. That decision would also ultimately change her personal life. Needing income, the tenacious teen took a hostess job at a local steakhouse, and it was there that she met Brett Szczepanski, the cook who would become her husband. The two wed in October of 2006.
Always seeking knowledge and betterment, she entered graduate school to study neuropsychology where one of her professors asked why she wasn’t pursuing a career as a physician, citing her propensity for asking “a lot of questions.” That inquiry gave her pause—so much so that, after completing her master’s thesis, she turned her appreciable energy and enthusiasm back to her original goal. In 2007, she began her studies at the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans where the couple ultimately welcomed their first son, Parker. When she progressed to her residency in Lafayette, the family expanded with the addition of a second son, Grant. The family soon moved to Brett’s native parish of St. Tammany, where Devan accepted a position as a hospital staff physician. The couple’s third son, Hank, was born during this time.
The bright, young doctor quickly learned that the patients she saw in the “real world” were becoming her teachers. They shared with her lists of vitamins and supplements used as part of their successful treatments. Believing that patients know their own bodies and what works for them, not only did she listen – but she also heard. Those conversations sparked an interest in alternative and nutritional medicine, or “lifestyle” medicine. As she researched this newfound passion, she made a leap of faith and opened her own private practice, DS Family Medicine. It was also at this time her fourth son Myles, “the caboose,” came along.
In recounting her journey, she expresses the belief that everything happens for a reason, and every phase of her life has served a purpose toward both the skillful and compassionate treatment of her patients as well as her own personal growth as a wife and mother.
Her staff—who she considers her second family—now numbers more than 20. Her traditional medical services include in-house ultrasounds and lab work, offering convenience while also providing ‘real-time’ comprehensive diagnostic care. When applicable, this is complemented with the DS Therapeutics division of her practice, offering a dynamic and holistic approach to medicine. Treatments are personalized for each patient, based in part on the individual’s DNA structure. Nutragenic options, including vitamins and supplements, are tailored to meet individual needs, and elective in-house brain-mapping technology can provide unparalleled insight into the patient’s mind-body health and function.
In combination, the custom-tailored traditional and complementary approaches have the potential to lead patients to healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives. “The ultimate goal,” says Dr. Szczepanski, “is to meet the needs of every patient wherever they are in their personal health journey and to truly support them through comprehensive ‘lifestyle medicine’. Most importantly, we strive to provide a place where patients feel like they are always cared for as a part of our family!”
DS Family Medicine is located at 56 Starbrush Circle in Covington. For more information, please call 985-246-5670 or visit dsfamilymed.com.