Become Your Own Superhero: Why I Chose Family Medicine
While cleaning up my office last year, I found my green and gold high school yearbook from 1974. I had been the associate editor for the Colonel White Cougar’s yearbook staff during my senior year. Looking through the yearbook brought back a flood of fond memories of who I was and who I aspired to become someday. When I opened the yearbook, to my surprise, on the inside cover, in my handwriting, it was signed “Gary Lewis LeRoy, MD, PhD, MBA, CIA, FBI” hilarious, right?
Somewhere in my adolescent consciousness, I had a desire to become a doctor of medicine. Years later, that thought became a conscious reality. What I had dreamt of becoming was a “real doctor” who did a little bit of everything within the house of medicine.
In 1984, I matriculated to the Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, OH. During my first few weeks of medical school, I was introduced to John Gillen, MD. He was a former U.S. Marine drill sergeant (who still had the look of one), chairman of our Department of Family Medicine, and the director of our introduction to clinical medicine course.
Nothing thrilled me more than to put on my short white medical student lab jacket, each Friday morning, to attend his class at St. Elizabeth Hospital. I was star struck by Dr. Gillen’s poise as an educator, the depth of his medical knowledge, and his life history. He was an iconic figure within the medical school. It occurred to me, as I was looking at the inside cover of my yearbook, that this was the type of doctor I had envisioned myself becoming when I signed “MD” behind my name 10 years prior.
Although, I had several brilliant surgical mentors prior to and during medical school, I continued to be attracted to the breath of opportunities and the universe of medical knowledge I could explore as a family physician. My third-year family medicine clerkship sealed the deal. My six-week experience at The Good Samaritan Hospital Family Practice (now Family Medicine) Residency Program was an absolute delight.
The residents were well-read, humorous, and knowledgeable about an amazing array of medical topics. Watching each one of them transition from discussing adult wellness management and tickling toddlers in the ambulatory setting; rushing to the labor and delivery to catch a baby; and having discharge planning discussions with hospitalized patients they had efficiently managed was incredible. This was the “real doctor” I wanted to become.
When I completed my match rank list in 1988, I knew I could have chosen any specialty of medicine or surgery I desired, but I wanted to do them all. When I was a kid, I admired the comic book character Superman because he had multiple super powers. I, Gary Lewis LeRoy, wanted to be a superhero, and that is what I am today, a superhero of family medicine who can do it all. To this day, that is why I chose, love, and practice family medicine.
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