A Public Celebration of a Personal Doctor

Abstract – The life of a family doctor is engaged with the people, families, and community he or she serves. Caring changes lives. Yet, we seldom have the opportunity to hear the gratitude or to reflect upon the privilege. In this essay, two family doctors share the experience of seeing a community celebrate the life of their doctor. In these public reflections on their personal doctor, folks reveal how he saw their needs, understood their fears, and partnered with them to create futures. Their stories are compelling evidence that personal doctoring is alive and well and held deeply in the heart of America.

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“Transitions test our strengths, weaknesses, and values. For a family those times are often birth, marriage, illness, and death.”

“He’d look at you and know, but still
Would stop and listen anyway.
Everyone was important and everything
Held meaning. Patiently organizing the
Details, he caught the wonder and the mystery.”

“Dr. John had become part of the landscape, and the geography of the town just changed.”

“… a professional life full of challenges met and promises kept, of more successes than failures, more fulfillments than regrets.”

“…years of service, days (and some nights) of caring, and moments of tenderness.”

“… Personal doctors, living in the community and practicing among people they know, can base their medicine on evidence that is richer than randomized clinical trials.”

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Copyright © 2010 Annals of Family Medicine, Inc. Originally published in:
 Phillips WR, Green LA. A public celebration of a personal doctor. Annals of Family Medicine. 2010 Jul-Aug;8(4):362-5.

Republished in the anthology: Gotler RS, ed. The Wonder and the Mystery: 10 Years of Reflections from the Annals of Family Medicine. London, UK: Radcliffe Publishing; 2013. ISBN 9781846199820

Read about the book. How to order.

For more information on the anthology, see: Gotler RS. The Wonder and the Mystery: Your Voices, Your Stories. Ann Fam Med. 2013;11(3):205-206.

This entry was posted in Essays, Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Public Celebration of a Personal Doctor

  1. Eric Parsons, MD says:

    I have served my community and continuity panel of patients doing Family Medicine w/ OB at a community health center for 13 years. So many times, I am reminded of the joy of practice and service; but not all times are happy, not all outcomes are predictable. During times when I am challenged to keep serving amidst the risks of poor outcomes and upset patients – I can reflect on this doctor’s impact on his community – and a flood of memories my own successes, connections, healing, joy, and alleviation of suffering and worry amongst so many of my own patients come to mind that keep me inspired to press on and to continue to serve.


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