You’re Choosing Family Medicine!? Absolutely.

As I round out my 3rd year of medical school I, along with my classmates, should be feeling the excitement of choosing the specialty that we will spend the rest of our lives practicing.  Planning auditions, finding mentors, and growing into the physicians we so fervently want to be.  Unfortunately, this excitement has been tempered recently, as I have been experiencing less-than enthusiastic support from attending physicians who believe that there is a better choice of specialty out there for aspiring doctors.

More often now than earlier in my 3rd year I am getting asked, “In which specialty are you applying?” I always respond with a smile and enthusiastically say, “FAMILY MEDICINE”.  The disapproval is often so thick I could cut through it with a knife.  Do they think there is no future for family doctors or do they think I am (or am going to be) an inferior doctor?  Where would one get this idea?  Family doctors commit themselves to a lifetime of knowledge that has to be broader than any specialist and every person needs a family doctor to manage their health.  Family medicine is a calling to a life of service and selfless giving to our patients in every setting.  I cannot find one variable opposing this choice of profession that would make any of us inferior doctors. In fact, as health care reform continues to take shape I see a tremendous need for family physicians in the future.

I have also been experiencing attempts to coerce me into other specialties.  While this is far more flattering than the silent disapproval I have received from other physicians and their intentions are well-placed, I’m not interested. They go on to tempt me with the prospect of a better paying career, the excitement of surgery, or performing invasive procedures.  As flattering as it is to be given the compliment that you would be welcome into their residency program and their specialty, my passion lies, as I hope yours does as well, in the field of family medicine.

I encourage you all to continue to believe in the calling of family medicine.  Before all of us lies a lifetime of joy in serving others in a field of medicine that needs passionate, intelligent, and committed physicians.  I invite you all to check your resolve and continue to smile and say “FAMILY MEDICINE” to those inquiring about your specialty of choice. I certainly will.

Author: Matthew Varallo

Matthew Varallo is a 4th year medical student at Western University of Health Sciences and will graduate with his DO in 2014. He is a California native, born and raised in the Whittier/La Habra area and graduated from California State University, Fullerton in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Economics. Matt is also Co-Chair of the CAFP Student Council.

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