Being a Family


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I love that we help patients who present with undifferentiated complaints determine what might be happening, and then help patients make a decision as to the best approach to care. I love that I can see all members of a given family. I love that I have a chance to prevent, detect, or intervene upon illness before long-term complications develop.

I love the academic challenges of figuring out how to address patients with complicated medical and phychosocial issues and the simple rewards of watching a healthy child grow and develop over time. The breadth of what I do, the nature of my role, the abiding relationships with patients are immensely gratifying. I become part of their lives and they become part of mine.

My greatest reward as a family physician is when family members of an existing patient decide, after experiencing how I care for their loved ones, to become patients themselves and also allow me to care for them. It's not like medical school, where you don't know them and will likely never see them again.

To deliver a baby that you have already cared for in utero and then to watch them grow and succeed has been the most rewarding part of my practice. I have also enjoyed working with medical students as a rural preceptor and watching them develop into thoughtful, confident physicians. As I move into academic medicine, I expect this to be an even more rewarding part of my career.

I love seeing our numbers when it comes to population health.

It is very rewarding to know that I am responsible for screening a larger percentage of my patients for breast or colon cancer. My best reward is when I make a personal connection to one of my patients. Getting a card in the mail that says, 'You're a great doctor and I'm so glad you're my doctor,' really makes my day. And my staff. The greatest reward I have is when people tell me they like to see me because I listen and I care. Or when they refer friends or family to me, as it shows they trust me. Many residents and students go into medicine with a sense that they have to save the world.

After time, the reality begins to hit them that there is very little chance that they are going to be able to accomplish that rather lofty goal.


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That sense begins to translate into a feeling that they have somehow failed and they will never be the physician they wanted to be, and that they will never be able to help others. They can become jaded and it can become "just a job" that they go to, never realizing the impact they are having on a day-to-day basis. Let me tell you the story about Ed. Ed was about five years old at the beginning of this story.

Ed's family had lost part of their health insurance coverage courtesy of cost-cutting measures by the managed care company with which his dad's company contracted. Ed's father called me one evening because Ed had a rash he had never seen before, and was running a temperature. Dad was rather upset and wanted to call someone he knew.

I was no longer their official doctor because of the changes, but he called me nonetheless.

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I told him to bring Ed in and we'd work out everything else later. One look at Ed and I knew something rather serious was going on. A few phone calls later and we had Ed admitted to the hospital and set up for an emergency bone marrow biopsy.

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The results were done stat and the news was what I unfortunately had expected: leukemia. A few more phone calls later, Ed was on his way to his initial bout of chemotherapy. Ed is now the same age as my son, and has finished college. All it took was a little caring and a few phone calls. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing a patient tell another how I saved his or her life. Beverly Flowers Jordan "I love taking care of my patients and the difference I can make in their lives.

My greatest reward is getting to know my patients and gaining their trust.

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Javier F. Sevilla-Martir "I love the relational aspect of my practice. My work is a great privilege. Joane Baumer "The level of engagement that I experience in my work is a great privilege. I appreciate the diversity in family medicine. Frederick Chen "I love being a generalist and being able to speak with experience about a wide range of clinical topics.

Video: What is Family Medicine? Watch Now. First, there is our own internal reluctance to leave a loved one, particularly if he or she feels abandoned if you leave. You might feel guilty and not be sure you have the right to have a good time if your loved one is suffering. You may be concerned about the cost. But remember, you must care for yourself, too.

And, like respite, getting support for your caregiving situation will help you take better care of yourself. The longer you are a caregiver, the more isolated you can become. But this lack of social interaction will lead to poorer health for you. But we all need someone to talk to.

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Resentment can build on all sides. If you are dealing with family conflict, it might help to have a meeting. Most of us find it hard to ask for help. Whom can you call and what can you ask them to do? Learning to accept help early in your transition to being a caregiver will make it easier down the road. Little things on a regular basis can mean a lot. Maybe someone would bring an occasional meal or dessert.

Having someone help with household chores can be an opportunity to socialize as well as get things done. Maybe someone can just come and sit with your loved one so you can run to the grocery store. Make a list of things that you need help with. Post it on the refrigerator. If you know a friend enjoys cooking but dislikes driving, your chances of getting help improve if you ask for help with meal prep instead of a ride to an appointment. Caregiving has many challenges and also many rewards. But you need to honor your own needs as well as commit to caring for someone else.

Getting information and training will help you feel confident about the many tasks you perform.


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Information is available online, at disease-specific websites, at Family Caregiver Alliance, through your medical providers, Area Agencies on Aging, some employee assistance programs, support groups, senior centers, and your community. Family Caregiver Alliance FCA seeks to improve the quality of life for caregivers through education, services, research, and advocacy. Through its National Center on Caregiving, FCA offers information on current social, public policy, and caregiving issues and provides assistance in the development of public and private programs for caregivers.

FCA Fact Sheets: www. Department of Health and Human Services, eldercare. All rights reserved. Learn more. Skip to main content. Search form Search. You are here Home. Order this publication. Listen To listen to this fact sheet, click the links below. Admit when you are experiencing burnout and get help Most importantly, remember that taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of someone else. Where can you get trained to do the tasks required? How can you learn to successfully: Feed, bathe, groom, or dress someone? Handle toileting or deal with incontinence?

Handle a complicated medication schedule? Transfer someone or help them walk? What are the care needs now and what are they likely to be in the future? What are the physical limitations that the care receiver has now or will have?

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What are the cognitive changes you can expect? Are there predictable behavioral changes that go along with them? How do I handle these changes?


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  6. If you are caring for someone with dementia, for instance, you need to learn the strategies for communication that will make you more successful and increase cooperation.

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