During my 25 years of practicing family medicine, I have received many sincere thanks and encounters for saving lives or inspiring patients to make life changes. Just a few weeks ago, I received a surprise visit by a patient, we will call her Madam Wong, whom I referred her for a mammogram. Madam Wong, a 58-year-old lady is under our regular clinic follow up for Hypertension and dyslipidemia for the past 6 years. Her chronic condition is well controlled. She is married for more than 30 years but has no children of her own. After performing her breast examination which revealed no obvious lump, I suggested that she should go for Breast Cancer Screening-Mammogram. She did so and the result was BIRADS-4. The Radiologist’s report suggested for tissue biopsy. She went to a private hospital and biopsy taken. The biopsy report came back as early stage left breast cancer. She undergone breast conserving surgery within less than a month and recovered well after the surgery. Madam Wong felt that because of me insisting her going for the mammogram hence the breast cancer was detected and managed early and she came say thank you.
Me and Madam Wong (photograph with permission)
A few months ago, another encounter occurred when a young woman, will call her Linda, referred to me for stress and depression. This episode, Linda had cut her wrist multiple times. She just broke up with her boyfriend, her family members are not supportive and she have problem at workplace too. She could not sleep at night and feeling unworthy. She was crying and telling me that she has no one to talk too of her problems. We managed the superficial cut over her wrist. After making her more comfortable and calm, we sat together and she told me her whole problem. I consulted the nearest Psychiatrist and get her admitted for further observation and management. After discharged from the psychiatric ward, Linda came with her mother to our clinic. Her mother expressed thanks since they are now able to understand and support her daughter better. These are the only two examples of entering into a person’s reality that a family physician, such as I, has experienced. As a family physician, you can enter another person’s life and become almost like a member of their family. Quite often, a former patient comes up to me and thanks me for what I have done in their lives; I am only doing my job.
There are many more examples, essentially family doctors play a central role in the early identification of disease, improved management of chronic illness, co-ordinate their care as necessary and helping people stay well. Family physician able to develop trusting relationships with individuals and families over time, provide effective, high quality, continuing care that often spans a patient’s lifetime. What I enjoy most about family medicine is the relationship that is built up over time with the patients and the variety of cases seen from day to day. I feel incredibly privileged to be the person patients look to for help and guidance through what can often be the most challenging and difficult situation patients will ever face. I enjoy the some of the humorous interactions I have with many of my patients every day.
During this pandemic COVID-19 period, our patients face numerous challenges and as family physician we should play our role too. Many strategies have been in-placed during the pandemic in the clinic and patient also can make appointments with their family doctor over the phone and by video. Appointments via phone and video help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. To all my peers, family medicine post-graduates and medical students, just remember that you too can make a difference !
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