The winter 2016 issue of The Ohio Family Physician depicted the past, present, and future of family medicine. Multi-generational family stories were published in the issue that portray the true meaning of “putting the family in family medicine.” These stories provide inspiration to bring joy back to practicing family medicine with an emphasis on the patient-physician relationship and caring for communities. Together, we can bring back this joy, combat physician burnout, and increase physician resiliency.
One of the families featured was the Kauffman family—meet these community leaders in the following segment and look for other family stories in upcoming editions of the Weekly Family Medicine Update, on the OAFP website, and on the Academy’s Facebook and twitter pages.
Doc, don’t you remember that I have diabetes? My A1c was much better last month. Good news—I loved that cardiologist you referred. After hearing statements like these, Ohio Academy of Family Physician’s President Ryan Kauffman, MD, FAAFP, pauses and gives a smile, but doesn’t say much in detail. Then, the patient realizes that Dr. Ryan Kauffman doesn’t really remember their medical history on the spot.
Conversations like this could be heard many times at Oakhill Medical in Bellefontaine, OH. Dr. Ryan Kauffman practiced with his father, Roger Kauffman, MD, FAAFP, now retired, for ten years. This was a challenge; many times patients who had seen Dr. Roger Kauffman for decades would assume that Dr. Ryan Kauffman knew their entire history just because his last name was Kauffman.
“Practicing together gave me an understanding of my father that I would not have had otherwise,” said Dr. Ryan Kauffman.
Community—it is the cornerstone of the Kauffman family. Ask anyone in Bellefontaine, and they will tell you that the Kauffmans give back to the community in several ways, and providing medical care is just one way.
“While education was not a high priority for my family of origin, there was a very strong value emphasized that we need to be of service to our community in all of our life including our vocation,” said Dr. Roger Kauffman, a past OAFP Family Physician of the Year award winner.
Growing up, Dr. Ryan Kauffman saw both Dr. Roger Kauffman and his mother, Rachel, helping people in their community. He learned the value of service and saw how, as a family physician, Dr. Roger Kauffman was able to make a difference in the lives of his patients.
“From the time that I was in kindergarten, I said that I was going to be a physician. To me, being a physician had always meant being a family physician. For as long as I remember, I spent time around the office and went along to the hospital for rounds. I saw medicine as a way to help others and give back to my community. I like the variety and the challenge of family medicine and feel like being able to care for all members of three and four generations of a family lets me provide better care to my patients,” said Dr. Ryan Kauffman.
In addition to Dr. Ryan Kauffman and Dr. Roger Kauffman, there is another family physician in the family—Anna Kauffman, MD, is Dr. Roger Kauffman’s daughter-in-law. Other family members also work in the health care field and are very active in the Bellefontaine and surrounding communities.
“I encourage them that if family medicine is where their interest lies, it is truly a good life,” said Dr. Roger Kauffman.
Dr. Ryan Kauffman’s sons, Evan, Neil, and Simon, plan to become physicians.
“I want to help people. It would be a great way to serve my community,” said Evan Kauffman.
“I want to be a physician because it sounds interesting and I want to help people,” said Neil Kauffman.
“I like using the tools that a physician has—like a stethoscope. I also like working with people,” said Simon Kauffman.
Neil, a sixth grader, has recently started talking about becoming a physician. The Kauffmans overheard Neil talking with his cousin about what he wanted to be when he grows up. His cousin asked him if he wasn’t concerned that he would not be able to spend time with his family if he becomes a physician. Neil said that while doing a direct primary care practice like Dr. Ryan Kauffman, he will be able to be a physician and still have time to be with his family.
Dr. Ryan Kauffman recently made the shift to direct primary care so that he could continue to care for his patients in the way they deserve without the administrative hassles in today’s medical system.
“I am able to do home visits, to take a half hour or more with each patient while not forcing patients to have prolonged wait times, and focus my efforts on taking care of my patients rather than focusing on insurance mandates and paperwork. I am involved in our Academy to help bring a better future for family physicians and our patients. I envision a future where we have a health care system that is focused on primary care and is a system that is healthy for physicians and patients,” said Dr. Ryan Kauffman.
Dr. Roger Kauffman is confident that despite the heavy demands on family physicians, there will always be the underlying need for well-trained compassionate physicians.
“Family medicine has been a good career for me. My family has paid a price for the demands of my practice. Rachel, my wife, carried the load for our family beyond what anyone should have been required to do alone. The success of my family, which ultimately allowed the success of my practice, was to a large extent due to the strong support of Rachel,” said Dr. Roger Kauffman.
Read other inspiring family stories in the winter 2016 issue of The Ohio Family Physician.