My Shadowing Experience: Family and Community Medicine Clinic

Hello again!

I am back with another post on my shadowing experiences! Recently, I had the pleasure of shadowing a wonderful family physician at a community health clinic. I was really impressed by the clinic and its interprofessional team. The clinic follows the Family Health Team model, which includes a team physicians, nurses, social workers, physiotherapist, dieticians, and other health care professionals. This allows patients to receive their care at one location, which is more convenient than travelling to many different sites. This collaborative team nature also gives patients access to the high-quality care that they deserve by promoting communication between health care providers and providing patients with a variety of programs to promote health and manage chronic diseases.

My day began bright and early, as I was meeting the family physician at 8:30am in the clinic. I arrived at the practice early, so that I had a chance to pick up a coffee before starting. I met with the physician before her clinic started and reviewed her cases for the day with her. There was a huge variety in the appointments scheduled for the day, as well as in patient population.

We started seeing patients after the registered nurse took the patients’ vitals, measured their height and weight, and administered vaccinations. Appointments always began by checking in with the patient and following up with any prior changes made to their care regime. The process was always very patient-centered and detail-oriented. Next the physician would ask about their reason for visiting the clinic. This would range from medication refills and well visits to sexual health counselling and diagnosing acute health concerns. There was so much variety in the practice. It was so interesting to see a newborn baby in one appointment and then see an elderly patient with multiple chronic illness in the following appointment. Depending on the chief complaint, the physician would then take a detailed history and conduct a physical exam, specific to the patient’s concern.

I would say we easily saw six or seven patients before lunch. We saw a few paediatric well-child visits, medication refills, and patient presenting with a skin rash. The day I shadowed, I was lucky enough to be there when the staff was having a pot-luck lunch. I enjoyed delicious food prepared by all the team members, and I thought it was so nice that the staff sit down to eat lunch together and chat.

After lunch, we saw another handful of patients with various concerns. We saw a few more paediatric well-child visits, a pre-natal visit, a patient coming in for an IUD placement, and a patient who came in with mental health concerns.

I think the paediatric well-child visits were my favourite part of the day! It is so adorable chatting with the little kids about what they enjoy doing, getting them to draw shapes, stand on one foot, as well as talk to parents about their own concerns. It was an amazing experience. I also enjoy explaining things to the kiddies in child-friendly language when asking them various questions. It is amazing when you see a seasoned physician talk to their paediatric patients. They have amazing analogies and stories for them. Adorable!

Family medicine involves a lot of investigative work, almost like that of a detective. The physician is constantly trying to piece together the patient’s story to come up with a differential, then verify the likely diagnosis through physical exam findings, imaging, or lab test results. It also involves a lot of preventive medicine, through patient screening, education and counselling, and the management of chronic illnesses.

Additionally, there is a very special relationship between family physicians and their patients. Since these physicians follow their patients over their entire life, they really get to know their patients and watch them grow. It’s incredible hearing stories about family physicians who delivered the babies of their pregnant patients and then took on the babies as patients too. It is a very interesting dynamic.

Overall, I would definitely give this experience two thumbs up! It was a fun day full of variety. I would definitely shadow family medicine again!

If you liked this post and want me to continue this series, comment below or connect with me on social media!


The Girly MD (to be)



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