I've been reading a lot of posts lately about what's wrong with Family Medicine. Truth be told, it's a long list. But all in all, I love my job. Maybe my tune will change as the years go by and burn out sets in, I'm still a newbie.
I had a lot of trouble deciding between Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine, and went so far as to interview for both programs. I liked Emergency Medicine a bit better, but what tipped the scales in the other direction was the burnout factor. Emergency docs spend more time dealing with unpleasant people than most professionals, and it wears on them. I certainly worked with a few community ER docs who had been in the business 20+ years and were still enjoying it. Unfortunately, they were the exception. I leave my office 4 of 5 days a week feeling great about myself, and great about my patients. I wouldn't have been able to do that as an ER doc (but they still have better blogs).
Here's my list of what's right with Family Medicine:
1. It's Life-friendly. I was going to say family-friendly, but it's more than that. Sure, you can be a workaholic in family medicine, but you don't have to be. It's easy to find an outpatient job where you can spend weekend and holidays with your kids, or your garden, or your fishing pole.
2. It's flexible. Like skin procedures? Great, everyone in your practice who doesn't will send them your way. Hate kids? Avoid them. Love OB? Move to Alaska, they need us up there. You can pick your poison.
3. You're in demand. Unless you are trying to practice in a dwindling population center, you'll do fine. I supposed this could be said of all physicians, but the predicted primary care shortages are looking like job security for me.
4. It's challenging. I knew a family medicine resident who had quit her ophthalmology residency after her first year. She said that she knew within 30 seconds of speaking with her ophthalmology patients which of 5 problems she was dealing with, and was immensely bored. That's a problem I'll never have.
5. The Marcus Welby effect. A lot of patients trust their family doctors more than their specialists. They realize you have a view of the whole person, not just their left kidney. True, some patients treat me like the bottom-of-the-class idiot who couldn't get into a better program, but they are few and far between. It's super-cornball, but you meet a lot of really nice people.
But I love my job.