To answer the question of why do I want to be a family physician, I first have to ask myself what is there in family medicine for me.
I was trained in Flinders University of South Australia where primary care teaching was strong. We had postings to the private family physicians in town practice as well as to family physicians that practice in the rural outback regions. The experience was an eye opener to the extend and breath of family practice where management of the patient goes well beyond the routine cough and cold. Through our six years of medical studies, we were also posted to palliative care and geriatric care in the veteran hospital. The involvement of the primary care physicians in the life of the patients left an indelible impression in me.
I remembered vividly in my final year as a medical student when I was assisting a vascular surgeon in the theatre who was doing a femoral-popliteal bypass. He was at the final stage of joining the graft to the popliteal artery when he asked me what I think of surgery. I was feeling very tired after standing next to the operating table for a few hours and without thinking I replied that I think it is quite a monotonous work! I guessed that was why my result for the surgical posting was not that great.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not belittling the noble profession of the surgeon, it is just that my temperament is not suitable to be a surgeon. I do not want to be stuck in the theatre for the whole day.
I want to be with people that I can talk to, to empathise with, to console, to offer a listening ear. I want to be able to see a variety of different presentations, to be challenged with patients coming to me with their undifferentiated complaints and ideas of their illnesses.
I want to be able to offer my services not only to a specific group of patients but rather “regardless of language or religion” and I will add to that “regardless of age, gender, occupation, rich or poor”. I want to be able to impact patients’ lives with advices to promote their health and to help them kick the bad habits of vices. I want to be there sharing with the patient’s life as they go through the challenges and trials that life throws at them and to offer a helping hand if I can.
Such are the joys and fulfilment of being a family physician.