A Doctor’s Prescription – Part 4 – Why I Love Family Medicine

Welcome back for Part 4 of my blog series on Dr. John Fisher’s recent article in Notre Dame Magazine, a letter to pre-med college students titled, “A Doctor’s Prescription.” You can read Dr. Fisher’s very thoughtful article HERE. This article caused me to reflect on not only my pre-med days, but on the reasons I chose to become a family doctor. Without question I would choose to become a family physician again, and so this final blog series entry is an ode to family medicine.

I recently came across an absolutely beautifully produced video that I feel captures the heart of family medicine. The New England Journal of Medicine featured Dr. Oscar Lovelace and his independent rural family medicine office in Prosperity, SC. Click on the link to watch this 10-minute video. I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Dr. Lovelace is a model family physician. It is no wonder he won the American Academy of Family Physicians “National Family Physician of the Year” award several years ago as he displays the full potential of what a family physician can do to care for their community. Not every family physician has the ability to practice what we call “full scope” family medicine, which includes delivering babies and caring for hospitalized patients, as he does. Nevertheless, I can tell you that the relationships he has developed with his patients is what we all strive for. This is the power of family medicine.

I think back to when I was choosing a specialty to go into in medical school. Part of what influenced my choice was that when I pictured a doctor in my mind, I saw a family physician. Going through medical school did not change that. I realized that for me, the ideal doctor is one who by definition provides holistic care to a family, regardless of how many generations that includes. Yes, I could have chosen to go into a “flashier” specialty, but I believe in the power of improving health by being the “first stop” for a patient and by taking the time to develop relationships. Perhaps this is an old-fashioned idea; after all, I grew up watching “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”! But after 15 years of being a physician, I can tell you that it makes a huge difference, and most of all it helps me to feel fulfilled as a physician.

Well child exam in columbia sc

Family medicine allows and requires me to know “a lot about a lot.” My residency training gave me experience in all of the medical specialties – Gynecology, Dermatology, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), and more (including surgery)! I have a desire to do as much as I can for a patient before sending them off for more expensive care from a specialist. I enjoy being the first doctor someone sees when they have a new medical problem that needs to be investigated, whether that problem is physical or emotional. I enjoy the variety and challenges that seeing kids, adolescents, adults, and seniors brings to my day. Family history also plays a big role in a person’s health. By taking care of multiple members of the same family, I gain better knowledge and insight into the family’s health history, which is incredibly helpful in caring for them.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my four-part blog series offering reflections on Dr. Fisher’s article, “A Doctor’s Prescription.” I certainly enjoyed writing it! If you have any topics that you would like to see addressed in my future blogs, or if you see any news articles that you feel might be of interest to me or to others, feel free to email me at DrBoylan@NoretaFamilyMed.com.

Have a good week! Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Melissa Boylan, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician and Owner of Noreta Family Medicine