This is a finalist in the 2015 STFM Blog Competition.
When I decided to pursue a career in medicine I knew that I wanted to go into primary care. Primary care physicians were the individuals that impressed and influenced me. They were on the front line providing grassroots medicine and I wanted that. I wanted the feeling of being a catalyst for change in an individual and a community. I wanted the unique responsibility and humility that comes with practicing family medicine and its roots within its general practitioner history. And be a part of the critical role of family medicine physicians and their ability to get intertwined within generations, households, and communities.
Family medicine to me means being a resource to patients and their families and welcoming the opportunity to improve circumstances and quality of life by embodying the core beliefs of medicine. When I started my family medicine rotation during the third year I was excited. During my first 2 years of medical school, I became more and more interested and intrigued by family medicine because of the beautiful spectrum of potential opportunities, experiences, and impact.
Day one of my family medicine rotation I fell in love with it. I enjoyed walking into a room not knowing what a patient would report, what symptom they would be most concerned with, or what other topics would arise as we built a relationship. I enjoyed learning about their situations and being able to provide help through medical and non-medical resources. I appreciated the moments the patients felt that I was a friend and advocate for them. The community center I worked in provided many services from medical and dental to law and social work and many other resources that would benefit someone’s daily life. The clinic was a place that could utilize its location, leverage, and colleagues to provide the care that a patient needed, health and non-health related. It was a glimpse into the future I desired, a future providing quality care on the front steps of a community.
During my time rotating in family medicine, I remember a mother and daughter coming in with one appointment but leaving with a treatment plan for each of them, a connection with a social worker, and access to the grocery store within the center. I remember the Spanish-speaking patient who wiped her tears away as I comforted her and assured her that we would truly help her. And the 8-year-old that was so excited about her first week of school she told me all about her teachers and friends during her well child check. Finally, I remember the elderly woman who had weekly transportation difficulties for her appointments and was overcome with the joy and relief when we told her about all the resources available to her for free. I remember the faces, the stories, the influence the patients and community had on me.
When I entered medical school I came in with many stories but the stories fostered from my experiences during medical school in primary care settings, especially family medicine, have moved and motivated me. Like reading a good book on a Sunday afternoon, family medicine is comfortable and captivating to me. Family medicine is beautifully diverse. It has found its way into my heart not only because of its broad understanding and knowledge base but also its unique personal touch for every patient, family, and community. Family physicians are able to become a part of a community and shape their practice to focus on the needs of their community. To me, family medicine means providing a future, a future for patients and their community through patient-centered care, quality resources and skills, and community relationships.