Yes! I am a Family Physician! I feel blessed to have had the opportunity for 37 years. I'm also excited that I'm just warming up. Practicing, practicing and practicing. Developing discernment, insight and understanding. The Human Condition meets Biological Variation and God steps in. Wow! Every day these people share with me about their lives, their biology, their pathology, their variations, their values, goals and dreams.
I am a Family Physician because of the patients. Who they are, what they do and what they have. They have trusted me with their bodies, their families and their stories.
I remember many lessons learned, unlearned and relearned, thanks to the repetition of patient care. From the first physical exam patient with migrating paresthesias at Mt. Carmel Hospital as an OSU medical student to the first inpatient at Riverside Methodist Hospital who died on the last day of the rotation when I was propping him up for a stat chest x-ray, I learned.
From the child with splinter hemorrhages on his eye exam to the one with a rare degenerative and terminal disease of the nervous system I learned at Children's Hospital of Columbus. The openness of Marana, Arizona with the National Health Service Corps Clinic and its multi-professional health care team including a Nurse Practitioner, Pharmacist, Nurse, and Internist fresh out of residency training in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins was enlightening. Adding the first immunizations I ever administered to children on the Pima Indian Reservation and use of the mobile health clinic used by the Marana Clinic to reach small villages expanded my perspectives about health care and medical practice and teams.
In the Department of Family and Community Medicine of Penn State University at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in "Chocolatetown, USA" - Hershey, PA I learned in the Family Medicine Model Unit on my own patients and in the Medical Center Hospital on patients of other physicians how to think like a Family Physician and how to act like one. A wonderful faculty taught us about our specialty from multiple perspectives. Tom Leaman, MD was our Department Chair who had founded the department and the Family Medicine residency training program before the specialty actually existed. He was a great leader and role model for what we residents wished to become.
House calls, nursing home rounds, the rural clinic in Millersburg, PA and the inner city Hamilton Health Clinic in Harrisburg were other parts of the Hershey training. I added a public health rural experience studying small town rural health centers in 3 Pennsylvania locations. Chocolate and the Hershey Park with Hershey Chocolate World rounded out the residency experience. Mentors like Dave Aspy, EdD somehow showed up, too. Relationships with patients, colleagues, friends and family were at the center of the learning and growing.
Raising children of our own became an important part of my understanding Family Medicine. Rebecca and I had one son in the Army at Ft. Riley, KS, another at Ohio State and the third at the Hershey Medical Center. I had insight about childhood growth and development, family systems, family life cycle and family structure and function from experience in my own home. Teething, immunizations, holidays, birthdays, family vacations and grandparents were part of both the personal and professional education. Three Mile Island was an added educational bonus since we were seven miles from the nuclear reactor that had a partial meltdown in March 1979. Maybe God wanted us back in Ohio.
We moved back and enjoyed Granville, Ohio for 15 years before coming to Bellbrook for 21 more years of practice. Many ups and far fewer downs added to my Family Medicine skills and attitudes and insight. Missing a brain tumor in a child was a significant developmental scar. Many subsequent patients of mine have benefited because of what I learned painfully through that failure. We care and we hurt and we learn. That's part of being a Family Physician.
A woman stepped into an elevator in Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark, where I admitted my patients, and looked at me, the only person in the elevator. I recognized her as a patient from several years before and remembered her story. "I bet you don't remember me." Before I answered, she continued, "You saved my life. My husband almost killed me and you helped me to understand what was going to happen next. I left him because of your help." "Thank you," I said.
I've grown in my appreciation of the Creator and the creation, including people. I speak of God with patients in the course of our conversations daily. One of my main responsibilities is to make sure that people know that they matter. Like they say in My church, they are "children of God".
Patient encounters in one setting or another number about 190,000 for me. They are still teaching me and inspiring me to learn more.
Somewhere along the way, I became a Family Physician.
Stories from the journey are sprinkled in my more than 500 blog posts as Dr. Synonymous and more than 200 Dr. Synonymous Blog Talk Radio Shows. Hits on this Blog will number 150,000 in the next few days. I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights about Family Medicine and the human condition and God.
Thanks to the patients I've been blessed with since 1973 when I started at OSU, I am a Family Physician.