As a medical student, Greer was good with his hands, but he didn’t want to be a surgeon. He loved little kids, but he also wanted to treat their parents. In short, he liked a little bit of everything, and he became a family medicine practitioner. “The thing that I think is so wonderful about family medicine is that when the nurse brings me a chart, I see whoever is behind door No. 3,” says Greer. He may need to refer people on to a specialist, but he feels confident that he can help the patient who’s waiting for him.
Loving the job.
Roger A. Rosenblatt, Res. ’72, ’73, professor and vice chair of the Department of Family Medicine and director of the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program, says that his job is immensely fulfilling. “If they didn’t pay me, I’d still do it. I love what I do.”
Finding role models.
It took a while for Amanda Keerbs, acting assistant professor of family medicine, to find her role models. “When I entered college, my older sister became ill with acute myeloid leukemia…watching her experiences in the medical center, I was somewhat disillusioned by the practice of medicine and how impersonal it felt,” says Keerbs. Later, she worked on homeless medical outreach projects in the Los Angeles area, and received a completely different view of medicine. “I was really impressed by the physicians who worked with the project, with their ability to connect with patients,” Keerbs says.
Laughing with patients.
Jennifer L. Brunsdon, M.D. ’96, Res. ’99, grew up in Montreal, Canada, with “fabulous socialized medicine.” Her favorite part of the job as a family physician in Helena, Mont.? “The best part is the stories. You get to hear about people’s lives…it’s rare that we don’t share a laugh at some point during a patient encounter.”
Finding the right lifestyle.
Before becoming a doctor, Sharon Dobie, Fel. ’89, professor of family medicine and a member of the Colleges faculty, was a social policies urban planner. One of the founders of the Rural/Underserved Opportunities Program (R/UOP), which places students in a clinical setting for four weeks in the summer, Dobie believes in giving students eye-opening experiences. “I think some students imagine that their lifestyle might be better if they didn’t work with an underserved population or in a rural community,” she says. “I don’t think it has to be that way. I think R/UOP can show them that physicians in a variety of settings can have quite meaningful lifestyles.”
Shaping health policy.
Jim Davis, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, recently chose between two job offers: working with a senator or congressman in Washington, D.C., through a two-year Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship, or becoming the chair of the Department of Family Medicine at UW Medicine. “The Dean argued that if I came here, I would have the strength of the five-state region, which clearly has primary-care workforce needs,” says Davis. He chose Seattle as the faster track to shaping health policy.
The excitement around the medical home.
A number of interviewees mentioned the promise of the medical home, a new, team-based approach to primary care. In it, doctors take more focused care of fewer patients. Patient and physician satisfaction is high, says Davis, and the Washington State Department of Health has asked 33 practices — including three from UW Medicine — to test the model.