I often laugh when I reflect on what my vision of a family doctor was before I started medical school. To me, family doctors were “cough and cold” physicians who would see routine, uninteresting patients every 5 to 10 minutes, earning a minimal salary compared to their specialist colleagues. They had a broad scope of practice and, because of that, needed to refer complicated cases to specialists.
What was I thinking?
Having no formal exposure to family doctors in my preclinical curriculum, I received a broader introduction to family medicine during FMIG lunch hour sessions. While indulging in a free lunch, I came to realize that family medicine is not what I thought it was. I learned that family doctors are competent in a multitude of procedures, from incision and drainages to IUD insertions to mole excisions. They do all this while also delivering babies, treating coagulopathies, and managing chronic pelvic pain.
But unexpectedly, what struck me during these seminars was the sheer enthusiasm expressed by the family doctors. They looked truly happy and made it clear that they enjoy what they do. Many of them spoke of the great work/life balance they’d achieved and how family medicine allows them to be flexible in their professional lives, while still providing vital clinical services to their community.
What other specialty can boast all these things?
I often wonder if I would have chosen family medicine if I hadn’t attended the FMIG lunches. Gaining a true understanding of family medicine in my first year definitely affected how I looked at the other specialties during my clinical rotations. I have to believe that interest in family medicine would increase somewhat dramatically if medical students learned the true nature of family medicine earlier in their preclinical years.