November 19, 2009

Family Medicine?

A question I get asked a lot is "Family Medicine, huh? Is that like a GP?"

It is strange but a lot of people do not know what a Internist does, much less a Family doc.

I was pleased when I came across this article in the Annals of Family Medicine: FAMILY MEDICINE: WHAT ARE WE GRADUATING?
From the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors

The original guidelines from family medicine covered a mere 3 pages laying out the length of training, and general content, as well as proposed categories of programs that reflected and embraced the wide variation of locations where family medicine physicians lived and worked. Our founding document also defined the family medicine physician in 4 domains

First, the family medicine physician was to serve as the physician of first contact with the patient who provided an entry for the patient into the health care system.

Second, the family physician was tasked to evaluate the patient’s total health care needs and to provide personal medical care and referral management.

Third, our graduates were to provide continuous and comprehensive care as well as the coordination of care.

Lastly, the vision asserted that family medicine physicians were to provide care for the patient within the context of the patient’s family and social milieu.
Primary care. Primary as in First contact. Total care as in from beginning to end. Family medicine -- with a focus on the context of interrelationships, family, and society. I love it! It's all in the name but the IDEA is somehow so foreign to the sort of fragmented, disjointed care that we have now that we've lost sight of these sorts of basic principles.

The Residency Directors ask this question:
Do we need to expand the definition of the family physician to include alternate types of practice? And, lastly are our values antiquated, are our visions of ourselves valid, or should we change?
I answer with an emphatic No.
I will strive to have a committed relationship with each and every one of my patients. One of the most frustrating thing about being a medical student is the time and effort required to get to know a patient in a 30-45 minute time span only to see them vanish into the Healthcare system never to be seen again. So I look forward to a time when a patient is scheduled for a follow-up appointment in 6 months and I actually get the chance to follow-through.

No comments:

Post a Comment