September 15, 2011

Family Medicine Interest Group

Filed under: Med School and the MSTP — sanguinemare @ 11:57 pm

The family medicine interest group met for lunch today, and being as I am – someone who pretty much has no idea what specialty (if any) she wants to pursue – I didn’t really expect to get that much out of it.  However, they were very clever… or such is how I choose to think of it at the moment… because they used some key words that immediately perked my interest.  Note that this is not in any way meant to say any other specialty is bad, nor that this one is better than any other.  The following are just a few reasons why my interest was piqued in this field.  Here are a few of them:

“We get to see people of all ages, ‘from the womb to the tomb.'”  Makes sense – the term ‘family medicine’ suggests the doctor would take care of everyone in the family, ranging from the newborn to the grandparents.  This helps make the clinic more varied in terms of who you see and what stages of life they are in.

“We get to know the whole family” – when they said this, I suddenly realized that that’s kind of the idea of a doctor that I’ve always held to be the best-case ideal… without even consciously knowing it.  When I think of a healer, in the traditional sense, I think of someone who goes around and treats everyone in the family and in the community – who knows exactly when Tommy broke his leg playing baseball, or when mom got sick with fever.  Someone who is almost part of the family, and who people think of first when they need to tell someone something they can’t tell anyone else in the family, or when they need medical attention/advice.

“We get to take care of the whole person” – physically, mentally, socially, spiritually.  More than any other specialty, or so they claim, family medicine allows the clinician to understand what’s going on with the patient in all aspects.  And since you know their family as well, you get to see the dynamics/interactions they have with each other, which is really powerful in understanding them as a person.  Also, since I am Christian, it is important for me to be able to help people spiritually as well (not that I would force my beliefs on anyone, but I recognize the necessity of spiritual health alongside the others, and want to be able to help my patients in that aspect when needed.)  It seems like family medicine is much more personal medicine – the “humanity” of medicine – and that’s the kind of “real,” lasting relationship I’d like to have with patients, not the 15 min a year kind of thing.

“We like to play detective” – oh man, this was a biggie.  I’ve always loved law and piecing together the big picture from clues, and to me, it’s probably one of the biggest things that make medicine interesting intellectually.  Because family practitioners “get to do some of everything,” it means they can use their vast expanse of knowledge to deduce what is going on, instead of only being specialized to one area of the body, one age group, or one disease.  I’m someone who has always been “pretty good at everything, not really good at anything,” so this seems the perfect fit. (Not that that’s necessarily a good thing…)

Along with that, they also said “we do more orthopedics than people realize,” which got my attention, because I’m interested in sports medicine, which family medicine apparently actually has a fellowship in!  This field is looking better and better all the time.

“Family medicine is flexible” – both time-wise (average 47.2 hrs/week) and career-wise.  You can basically end up sort of becoming a sub-specialist if you wanted, or you can practice in rural areas, or you can do… anything you want with it, apparently.  And since there’s such a shortage all over the country (except maybe the East and West Coasts unfortunately…), you can pretty much go wherever you want to and be ok.

“I didn’t want to have to choose between being a good doctor or being a good mom.  I wanted to be able to be good at both.” I’m not a family person by any means, but if/when it comes to that at some point, I completely agree with the girl who said this.  I don’t want to have to sacrifice my children/family to be a good doctor, nor do I want to be a mediocre doctor because I need to take care of my family.  For something as intense as say, neurosurgery, that might not be possible.  But family medicine almost makes you be a better mother/family member by default it seems, because you need to take care of people of all ages.

Those were definitely some good key words for me. I’m actually pretty excited – for once, the descriptions of clinical practice actually appeal to me, or at least have triggered an interest.  Perhaps I have finally found (one of) the reason(s) I am here.


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