Happy. Healthy. Southie.

Supportive and non-judgmental advice from SBCHC's health experts.

Why Family Medicine

By: Ethan Lai

“I’ll be going to her house for her grandson’s birthday party this weekend so I‘ll follow up on her ambulatory blood pressure readings.”

After a month of shadowing at SBCHC Family Medicine department, that line stuck with me more than any other. Sure, I had no complaint or issues with my present PCP and I’d liked my old pediatrician enough to be sad to outgrown his care.  However, the thought of either of them showing up at my house remained unthinkable. Yet in Family Medicine, that party checkup felt perfectly natural because the ‘family’ in Family Medicine isn’t an empty promise. Not when patient-physician relationships can last for decades, including your partner/spouse, grand parents, children and siblings, even in-laws, all often seeing the same doctor.

It isn’t uncommon for Family Medicine physicians to care for babies they delivered all the way through that patient’s adolescence, puberty and beyond. In this setting, I could easily see how the line between family physician and friend could blur. It also wasn’t hard to see patients who have relocated still coming back for their care and patiently hanging out in the waiting room pausing to be called.

There are, I’m sure, outstanding doctors and incredible doctor-patient relationships in every specialties but I want to think that there’s something more genuine about Family Medicine. When you step into a FM exam room, you are welcomed by the same professional who sees your mom, who may have delivered your children, and who may have cared for your grand-parent in an inpatient setting. Or, perhaps they have counseled you through a challenging and turbulent situation in your life. Whatever the situation may be, the physician brings that intimate knowledge of you, your life, home situation, personal tragedies and triumphs to your visit.

It’s a doctor-patient relationship founded on incredible trust and familiarity.

And I can’t think of any field where it’s so easy for healing to cross from diagnosis and prescribing to guidance, support and ultimately friendship and may be an invitation to a birthday party!

Ethan Lai

Ethan Lai is a medical student studying Family Medicine. He writes of his experience shadowing Dr. Evelyne Chiapko at the South Boston Community Health Center. Family Medicine is a branch of medicine that addresses comprehensive care to all ages.