Family medicine is not something I selected once and took for granted. In contrast it seems that family medicine is a path I chose in the past when I studied public health, am choosing as I begin residency, and will continue to choose as I grow into the physician I desire to be. As with any weighty decision, the act of choosing family medicine along with the events that follow reify this career path thus far dutifully followed, not yet attained.
I want to be a family physician so that I can be my patients’ doctor. I want to manage their diabetes, hypertension, psoriasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and depression. I want to see them throughout the year and in the hospital. I want to know their parents and children and cousins. I want to wake up every morning committed to working for my patients and expanding my ability to do so. I want to be a clinician well worth having. I have learned so many things from my various clerkships and experiences and I know now that my choices are based on the intermingling of experience and hope. There is a state of humility that I aspire to, that understands how all physicians serve their patients and are mere partners in their health. Amidst the quagmire of health care, someone has to stand advocating for total wellness, part restorative and part preventative. I do not yet know what the future holds for the scope and depth of my practice but I am quickened by my aspirations for health care delivery. While equipping patients with information, allaying fears, suturing lacerations and listening, who can accurately measure where healing resides? While pursuing these plans, I struggle with the image I hold of family medicine and the ever-changing ethos of family practice. The doctor for the delivery, the attending at the lecture, the clinician in the office, the teacher at the supermarket and the friend at the deathbed are just a hint of what a family medicine physician can be. I know that I have to provide quality care while also defending and defining my scope of practice. I am invested in doing this because I feel that it is honorable to do so and much needed.
Every adult, blessed with the basic abilities, must grow and discern their calling. I am committed to health care and the primary care provider’s essential role in it. I find it baffling that the public health theorist’s cure to the health care crisis is primary care and yet the economic climate is steadily calling for its extinction. The young physician now, it seems, must not only be armed with evidence based medicine but also with a vision of what health care can be. I chose family medicine in the same manner as I choose friends. Friends should enjoy each other, be useful to one another and share a common commitment to the good. I enjoy the practice. I believe I have a certain skill set that will allow me to come along others and aid in their healing. Ultimately, as I understand it, family medicine and I have a common goal and appreciation of a certain method for making people well.
Editor’s note: Dr. Jocelyn Mary-Estelle Wilson, MD matched into the Baylor Family Medicine Program in Garland, TX.