Why I Love Family Medicine (Reason #337)

June 22, 2010
Jennifer Frank, MD

Part of the reason I love family medicine is precisely because rounds may take me from the ICU to the labor deck, from end-of-life decision making to a patient choosing between natural childbirth or an epidural.

The third floor of our local community hospital has the labor and delivery deck with the newborn nursery at one end and the oncology unit at the other. Hospital rounds don’t often take me to both units on the same day, but this past week they did.

As I walked from one end of the hallway to the other – from seeing a gentleman at the end of his life to a little boy just beginning his, I reflected on the symbolism of this walk and the walk we each take along this path.

Part of the reason I love family medicine is precisely because rounds may take me from the ICU to the labor deck, from end-of-life decision making to a patient choosing between natural childbirth or an epidural.

It goes beyond a simple dichotomy of extremes of ages or life situations. My medical practice instead encompasses the huge variety of experiences that many of us are lucky to find make up the fabric of our lives. Birth, death, grief, joy, pain, sorrow, loss, surprise, and miracles.

While the science of medical decision making intrigues me, it is the relationship part of things that is most compelling. I stand in awe of a dedicated wife faithful in her bedside vigil or smile to myself as a new mom and dad take turns fussing over their newborn son. My own relationship with patients and their families is important as well.

Seeing my patients in these experiences and sharing these moments with them enriches my life and certainly makes me a better physician but also a better wife, mother, and human being.