We had a great #proudtobeGIM lunch at UASOM yesterday, with an amazing panel of diverse general internists, a room full of interested and engaged students, and free lunch! As I reflect on the career journeys of my colleagues, I was struck by my own path.
Once I figured out medical school was the right direction for me, it was always primary care. Joel Fleischman, perhaps more than any other fictional character, was always my inspiration. Well trained, bright, and then immersed in a community, perhaps a small one, where you get to know EVERYONE. Take care of whole families, and see your patients at the grocery store.
Over the course of medical school, “primary care” became General Internal Medicine. I picked medicine over family practice because I really enjoyed the complexity of adult patients with multiple chronic diseases, and saw that I could have a real impact in that group of people. It has given me the long-term relationships that I craved early on. And I still get to treat families. I have often been “auditioned” by the mom, who then refers her adult children, husband, sister, neighbor…. It is quite an honor when I pass muster. And I see my patients at the grocery store, park, and most frequently when I’m sitting down to a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake. Doctors, they’re just like us!
What took my by surprise was my love for teaching. Once I became a ward resident, I realized that breaking complex topics down to explain to others was a lot like giving advice to patients, and sometimes even more fun. Not only did I learn things more deeply after teaching them, I got to forge these great relationships with my colleagues. But primary care was still my goal. I wasn’t going to do a fellowship, and I wasn’t a chief resident, so I didn’t think academic medicine would be in the cards for me. Until a mentor approached me about interviewing for a position in GIM. I think that I actually said, “Really? Y’all would hire me?!
I interviewed for private practice groups and for GIM at UAB, and it became clear that I was much more excited about teaching and administration than I ever would have thought during my preclinical years. Everyone I work with does something different, which really gives me a feeling that the sky is the limit. Certainly I have to earn my salary, but I can take my career in so many directions. I have opportunities to get more training in education, QI, research techniques, leadership, and more. And the “earning my salary” part- seeing patients and teaching residents in clinic, is pretty great. I love my job now, and I love the possibilities for the future.
All of this makes me incredibly Proud to be GIM!
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Join us at Cantina Tortilla Grill (Pepper Place) on Jan 18th @ 5:30 for Food, drink, and more great insights on GIM as a career path.