Ryan Kauffman, MD, FAAFP

It’s All in the Family – Taking the Torch

As we celebrate 70 years of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians service to Ohio’s family physicians and patients, we are also celebrating our stories as family physicians. When asked to write about my family medicine story, I decided to find my personal statements that I wrote for medical school and residency. When I think about the decision to practice family medicine, I do not see it as just a decision that I made more than 15 years ago, but an ongoing decision to practice a wide spectrum of outpatient family medicine. It is fun to see how much my story has evolved in the last 20 years, along with how much still remains the same.

I am a family physician because of the example set by my father. I have wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember and, for me, being a physician has always meant being a “family physician.” I have watched my father practice medicine in our community for almost 40 years. During that time, he delivered over 1,000 babies, cared for thousands of patients in their homes, his office, the hospital, and nursing homes making life better for a countless number of patients and their families.

His example has inspired me in many ways. In my residency personal statement, I wrote about how pictures are a powerful way to show what makes us who we are. The picture that I chose for my family medicine story is my medical school graduation picture with my father placing my hood. Professionally, there has been nothing that has brought me more joy than practicing medicine with my father.

My work within the OAFP and the American Academy of Family Physicians is the best example of how my career has changed to meet the needs of those I serve. At the time, I did not consider myself an “organized medicine” physician; but when provided the opportunity, I accepted the task of helping the Family Medicine Interest Group at The Ohio State University and was assigned to attend the student/resident meeting at the OAFP. I attended the first meeting out-of-duty, but have attended every meeting since for almost 20 years. I attribute that to the positive impact we, as an academy and as family physicians, can have for all of our patients.

In my office work, I impact one patient at a time; through my state and national Academy work, I am able to impact patients by the thousands or millions at a time. I have had the opportunity to develop quality improvement modules that help family physicians complete their maintenance of certification requirements, while also improving the care their patients receive. Currently, I serve on an AAFP committee that is working to improve the way we do continuing medical education.

During my nine years in traditional private practice, I enjoyed caring for patients in my office as well as hospital settings. While refining my skills in diagnosis and procedures, I have come to appreciate the challenges of implementing electronic health record systems and obtaining patient-centered medical home certification. Also, to meet the needs of my community, I have served as a medical director for one of our local nursing homes; and while I enjoyed caring for my patients in this setting, the struggles of not being paid for all of the work I did, along with increased administrative burden, made the job difficult.

A couple of years ago, I once again found myself going in a direction that I never expected when I left my practice to start a direct primary care practice. Practicing in a setting that allows me to care for my patients, rather than dealing with electronic health records and insurance companies, has truly brought back the joy I have for practicing family medicine. I am able to take my time with patients and give them the care they deserve.

As I look back over my 20 years in medicine, I am excited to see what the next 20 years holds. It is a great privilege to serve my patients and my community, and an honor to be a proud family physician!

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If you’d like to share your story, please email it to Communications Manager Morgan Pelt as a Word document along with at least 2 photos.

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