Why Work in Family Medicine?
Let me start off by saying I didn’t go into PA school thinking that I would work in family medicine. I even purchased a cheaper stethoscope with the thought that I wouldn’t use it once I graduated (it’s the same stethoscope I use now). I applied for PA school and went through my training with the end goal of being a dermatology PA. So why family medicine?
After learning so much during didactic year, and then actually practicing medicine during clinical rotations, I felt like there was still so much left to learn! I knew that if I went straight into dermatology I would lose most of my knowledge in medicine that I worked so hard to learn. And although there’s nothing wrong with going straight into a specialty, and if that dream derm opportunity came up I certainly would have, I am so happy that I didn’t. The knowledge that I have gained working in family medicine is invaluable.
Recently my grandpa was admitted to the hospital. It felt good to be able to talk to his doctors and know exactly what is going on with his health. I was able to look over his medications when he came home and feel confident that he received the best care. I was able to answer my grandma and other family member’s questions about his condition. Yes, the doctors in the hospital answered their questions, but let’s face it most of that went right over their heads. He was sick and they were scared. It felt good to be able to provide reassurance at the end of the day. That’s just one example of how I can help family and friends. Even if it’s just directing them to their primary care provider for something that really needs attention.
Why else? While its certainly not the ER, you never know what to expect. Sometimes I need to redirect my patients to the ER. Sometimes there’s an abscess that needs to be I&D’d and I get to play Dr.Pimple Popper (my fave!). Sometimes I don’t even know why my patient came to the office, and we literally just chat for 15 minutes. Either way my patients appreciate the level of care that they receive. They are so thankful when they return and they are feeling better. There’s no better gratitude than knowing that you did your best to make somebody feel better!
So far I have been working in family medicine for two years. My confidence has been growing exponentially. Eventually I do plan to transition into dermatology, but I know that I can transition into almost any specialty and I have a solid foundation. I read consults from specialists every day and sometimes I think, “why did I even refer the patient?”, because they do not do anything differently than I already did. We ultimately refer for reassurance to the patient, and reassuranceto ourselves too. Because at the end of the day working in family medicine is not just about diagnosing and treating, it’s also about coordinating a complete and thorough plan of care.
I definitely recommend family medicine for any new grad PA, and I highly recommend students to consider it!