Dr. Kurt Bravata, M.D. is a family physician in Missouri. He recently submitted a blog post published by the American Association of Family Physicians discussing what he loves about family medicine. It is a very timely post given how difficult it is these days to convince new doctors to get into family medicine.
Countless family medicine jobs are available at private practices, group practices, and hospitals. Family medicine locum tenens is also in high demand. Unfortunately, it seems as though medical students see family medicine as a specialty of last resort. It is not. In fact, you could make the case that family medicine is the bedrock of all healthcare.
Reading Dr. Bravata’s piece makes it clear that he misunderstood family medicine before he got into it. His post points out a number of poignant realities every new doctor should know about family medicine from the day they start their rotations.
The Benefit of a Family Medicine Rotation
Bravata says that not all medical students go through a family medicine rotation as part of their training. He believes this is unfortunate because students are not getting exposure to one of the most important aspects of medicine. That said, wouldn’t it make sense for students to request such a rotation?
A family medicine rotation takes medical students to where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Family medicine gives them the opportunity to see all sorts of patients suffering from a seemingly unlimited number of ailments and injuries.
All Specialties Flow from Family Medicine
Before the medical industry was replete with so many specialties, there was family medicine. That was it. Back in the day when doctors opened their practices by hanging placards over their doors, there was no such thing as a cardiologist or oncologist. Family doctors treated everything from simple infections to life-threatening diseases.
Family medicine is, in fact, the one specialty from which all other specialties flow. That makes it unique. There is nothing quite like setting up a private practice or going to work as an employed family clinician and seeing dozens of different cases every day. No case is exactly like another, as no two patients are alike.
Family Medicine is Not a Dead-End
There is a long-standing misconception within the medical community that family medicine is a dead-end. That perception has been passed on to medical school schools as well. Yet it is not really true. Family medicine is rife with opportunities to learn, grow, and move forward. It is certainly a form of medicine that continuously expands a doctor’s horizons.
Family medicine jobs require a tremendous amount of knowledge. Where a cardiologist or oncologist could limit future education only to those things pertaining to his or her particular specialty, family medicine physicians have to continually expand their scope of knowledge to accommodate evolving medical needs.
Family Medicine is Very Personal
One of the things Dr. Bravata loves most about his job is echoed by so many other family physicians: the personal relationships he developed with patients. Bravata described in his post how he recently received a warm hug from a patient he helped get through the loss of a child. In another case, he built a relationship with a patient who needed his help working through a complex medical decision.
Family medicine, by its very nature, affords doctors the opportunity to treat multiple members of the same family – for generations. They get to know their patients. Patients get to know them. This makes family medicine a very personal experience that gives a whole new meaning to treating the sick.