Position: MS4, MD/MBA Candidate, CAFP Medical Student Council Chair Location: UC Irvine College of Medicine
I am choosing family medicine: for many reasons. First, I want to know my patients well, always considering the greater context of where and how they fit into their families, communities, and our public health efforts. Second, I am intrigued by undifferentiated problems—something I will undoubtedly encounter as a family physician. Third, I enjoyed every clerkship throughout my third year of medical school, and am thankful and eager to enter a profession that requires my constant study. Fourth, the future of healthcare needs strong physician leaders to reshape our system into one that is patient-centered, fiscally responsible, increasingly just, and efficiently run; I believe that family physicians are uniquely positioned to lead in these efforts. Fifth, family medicine is wonderfully practical, and humanly comfortable away from the ivory tower. Basically, family medicine is cool.
I'm a member of AAFP and CAFP because: many are stronger than one. There are hundreds of competing interests that lobby for profits over patients, or disjointed care over coordinated care, so if family physicians want to advocate for their patients and bolster primary care, they need to unite.
I think the most helpful CAFP resource is: Cody Mitcheltree, our Student and Resident Affairs Coordinator. Also, our journal, American Family Physician.
What do you love about family medicine? I think I answered this question above.
How do you champion family medicine? By being the best student I can be, so that I will be known as a hard-working, intelligent, strong, well-spoken, and caring individual who wants to go into family medicine. I want my attendings, residents, and colleagues to respect the quality of my work, and think of me as someone they would confidently send their family members to. I want other specialties to think of intelligent, committed, and caring docs when they think of family physicians.
How do you spend your free time? I hang out with friends, run, swim, surf, lay out at the beach with SPF30 sun block, drink microbrews, and go to church
What is your favorite getaway?
On my days off, I drive to Newport Beach and run the boardwalk. It’s my favorite run.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
What one issue do you think the Academy most urgently needs to address?
The Academy needs to continue its efforts in educating physician colleagues, medical students, politicians, and society about the true value of family medicine. Its value is implicitly questioned when the myth of the mid-level provider equivalent prevails, when compensation structures do not value management, and when academic centers, which are where most students train, are frankly unaware of the value of family medicine.
What is the biggest challenge facing health care today? Any thoughts on how it could be addressed?
Conflicting ideologies about whether or not healthcare is a privilege or a right, and to what extent healthcare should be a social service. Overall, I think this leads to a lot of time spent locking horns about how we should reform healthcare without actually reforming healthcare. I don’t have the answers to these challenges, but my vague hope is to affect the way healthcare is delivered, to build and innovate in some way to improve healthcare, so that expanding care, strengthening primary care, and promoting equity while reducing costs can be achieved.
What/who influenced you to choose family medicine?
Dr. Boersma, an internist I met in Malawi, who advised me to consider Family Medicine. Dr. Thomas Bent, a former past-president of the CAFP, and a mentor. Dr. Morohashi, UC Irvine’s Family Medicine clerkship director, and a mentor. Dr. Jay Lee, our OC-CAFP president, and CAFP Secretary treasurer, who I see as an older brother figure. None of these physicians have pushed me into Family Medicine, but I respect each of them for countless reasons, am inspired by them, and hope to emulate each of them in some way.
What is the biggest opportunity or challenge you see in the family medicine specialty in the next five years?
The most exciting opportunity is for our specialty to take a central role in healthcare reform; this can include reform in our respective clinics and hospitals, local markets, state, and nation. Family medicine is on the ground, so it uniquely appreciates the needs of patients and communities; I hope that the specialty as a whole will capitalize on this position, and lead the way to a better healthcare system.
If I wasn't a family physician, I would like to be a(n): symphony conductor, chef, jazz violinist, surf bum, singer-songwriter, relief organization worker
In his own words...
On best lesson learned while in medical school...
Always remember that your work is an incredible privilege; be thankful and don’t waste it. At the same time, remember that the world can survive without you; it doesn’t need you to save it, so get over yourself. Treat your patients with kindness; they’re human beings, and not a conglomerate of blood work and symptoms. Again, be thankful.
On offering advice for new medical students looking at a career in family medicine...
- Know why you want to go into medicine and remind yourself throughout your training why you want to go into medicine.
- Expect people to discourage you from going into family medicine. They will throw out a lot of reasons, some of them misinformed, about why you shouldn’t go into family medicine.
- Find community family physicians who like what they do. They are most knowledgeable about the value of family medicine, and can dispel any myths and share realistic concerns they might have about the field.
- Find mentors.
- Sleep. Know how many hours of sleep you need each night to be able to focus through each day. Some need 6, others need 8. Get enough sleep.
- Study hard. Be social. Exercise regularly.
- You will be as good a doc as you make yourself. No one is going to spoon feed you anything.
- If your answer to number 1 has anything to do with long-term relationships with patients, serving your community, addressing the primary care shortage, treating the whole person, social justice, or the “big picture”, and you find yourself thinking that you need to be able to diagnose Moyamoya in order to be a “real doctor” and not “waste” your education, you are likely training in an academic medical center. Take a step back and remember that this disease is most common in Japan and that it’s incidence in Japan is <1 in 100,000. Turn around and in you’ll see a diabetic who is on his way to a heart attack, and remember why you wanted to be a doc the first place.
- Learn how to work with people who are difficult to work with; that’s half the battle.
- Be thankful.
On why he is taking on a leadership role as a young physician...
Because I believe what I said.