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Did I Choose Family Medicine or Did It Choose Me?

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I’ve wanted to be a doctor since 2nd grade. By 4th grade, my parents were sure I would be a doctor; after learning to write cursive effectually, all 4th graders were allowed to use ink pens instead of pencils to do their language arts homework. I was the last 4th grader at my school to finally be allowed to use a pen effectually illustrating that I “write like a doctor!”

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer “a baby doctor.” In medical school, I liked well-child care, in particular newborn care, but felt caring for children with chronic, and sometimes terminal, illness would not be rewarding enough to outweigh the dispiriting heartbreak. That suspicion was confirmed while doing one of my many pediatric rotations where we lost three patients in one month.

I was hesitant to like Obstetrics because I knew someday I would want kids of my own and thought having babies and delivering babies was not a good combination. I couldn’t help it — I loved Obstetrics, (but was not crazy about Gynecology).

During internship, I decided to pursue a Residency in ObGyn. I loved the thrill of labor and delivery. All of my classmates were more than happy to let me do all of their deliveries on top of my own.

December of my internship year, I had a motor vehicle accident that landed me in ICU. It was an enlightening experience that probably made me more empathetic than I would have been otherwise, but I digress. I not only missed a month of work, but also my chance at interviewing for the few Ob spots I had applied for. Exasperated, I was forced to learn patience and perseverance — things I arrogantly thought I already knew by then, but repeatedly find myself relearning and reinforcing; once again, I digress.

There was a Family Medicine Residency where I was interning and they graciously accepted me into the program fully expecting me to leave for an Ob Residency as soon as I got the chance.

I started my Family Physician Residency at a small community hospital that was in the midst of a takeover by a larger hospital system. We were all concerned I may not be the only one looking for a new Residency the following year; there were rumors our program was going to be swallowed up by the corporate hospital and we would be lost in the shuffle, but that did not happen. We were welcomed and our residency was allowed to continue independently as we had been with the benefits of the small community hospital feel and corporate hospital resources. One of those beneficial resources was a strong Ob rotation and an Obstetrics Fellowship!

I had found my dream job!! I discovered I actually liked Family Medicine and an Ob Fellowship would allow me to deliver babies without having to deal with the routine Gynecology that lacked appeal to me!

Twenty-five years later, I have abandoned Obstetrics for Family life that Family Practice practiced my way allows me to live. The Obstetrician who delivered my kids told me my newborns needed me, but not as much as they would need a parent when they were in middle school; I found that to be true and I think most parents of teens would reluctantly agree that at the very time your children are least enjoyable to be around is exactly the time you need to be there. Even though they may not readily admit it, my kids are glad my job is flexible enough to allow me to be around when they get out of school.

I have been blessed with a wonderful immediate family as well as an “extended family.” By being a Family Physician in a small town over a generation, I have had the privilege of caring for “families” — from grandparents to grandchildren, sisters and brothers, and everyone in between. I have been welcomed into their family and many of my patients have seen me welcome my own children into my life.

As I sit here wrapped in a throw a dear patient crocheted for me, I realize I am content with my career and delighted with my family and my life as a Family Physician.

Written by a Family Dr who still practices “Family Medicine” — office and hospital — for a generation in the same community as it was meant to be!

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