Edward T. Bope, MD, FAAFP

My Journey to Family Medicine Was No Easy Feat

Growing up in a small rural town, where my dad was the family doctor, made me aware at an early age the importance of medical care in a community. There were many times where I traveled with my dad on his house call visits, whether it was waiting on him in the car or sitting at a patient’s kitchen table. During my wait, I had plenty of time to keep my mind preoccupied with the knowledge and power it takes to practice family medicine. From saving lives to comforting the terminally ill, this was the calling I received at a young age.

Family medicine has always played a significant role in my upbringing, from being well-known at our local church, to running errands around town, family medicine was at the heart of my family. Every day I saw the compassion and unwavering dedication it took to manage and thrive in a family practice.

And early on, I thought teaching would be the right career choice for me; but with time, I realized that I wanted to be able to cure illness, comfort patients, set bones, deliver babies, and provide a safety net for a community. A critical skill learned as a teenager – the ability to drive, was a skill I learned by taking my father on house visits through the long, winding roads and steep hills in southeast Ohio.

The medical profession crept into every aspect of my adolescent years and when I was ready to start college, I was met with a shortfall soon after. Within my first year of college, I had to drop out to have immediate, yet necessary, surgery. Thankfully, I recovered quickly and took classes during the summer to get back on track. That experience, alone, made me even more ambitious to pursue medicine.

Of course, I thought being a family physician was considered the “generic” route of all the other subspecialties in medicine. And it just so happened that as I entered medical school, many of my classmates were eager to become family physicians. At the time, family medicine residency programs began to develop at the most top-performing hospitals and eventually were brought to universities. Though it was very competitive, I managed to secure a spot at the Riverside Family Medicine Residency Program in Columbus, OH. My residency training was broad and rigorous. It was filled with wonderful family physician mentors like David Rudy, MD; Jim Mason, MD; Jack Verhoff, MD; and Ron Van Buren, MD.

Becoming an assistant residency director and then finally the director at the Riverside Family Medicine Residency Program set the course for a fantastic career in family medicine, both in teaching and in practice. Now, I continue to practice and teach residents and students at the Physicians Free Clinic and the Columbus VA. I am also the director of graduate medical education for the Office of Academic Affiliations, a position that gives me the resources to help expand family medicine and other primary care professionals across the nation.

Not once have I doubted that I made the right choice to practice family medicine, and not once have I regretted becoming a family physician. I am hopeful that even more students will find their way to family medicine, and in doing that will find careers that are challenging, manageable, and fulfilling.



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