Wearing the story of fellow family physician Regina Benjamin, MD at #TheWalkingGallery on June 7, 2011, Washington, DC

This is the art that I will be wearing, painted on the jacket that I gave artist Regina Holliday (@reginaholliday) to use as her canvas (you can see a photo of the canvas presentation here).

The story of US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, and how it is portrayed in this piece is written engagingly on this post on Regina’s blog.

I didn’t know all of the details of Regina Benjamin’s journey and I only partially remembered that she is a family physician until I read the post and then really felt the honor that comes with sharing this story with all who will see my jacket.

Family physicians have a special place in the medical profession – we are one of the youngest specialties (recognized as a distinct specialty in 1969) and for me I have seen being a family doctor as part of an underdog group To this day, seeing another family physician for me is like meeting an American in Europe – there’s great respect for everyone around us, and at the same time a special bond that comes from our training. Some people say family medicine is a specialty of “breadth, not depth,” and I disagree. It is a specialty of incredible depth and learning about what motivates our patients, families, communities, and ourselves, to care. We go beyond the organ system and the medical office and hospital.

I identify what it says in the piece about “Shoot the Moon,” because to choose this specialty of family medicine is often to shoot the moon, when there are so many messages around that sub-specialization is the most rewarded or rewarding career in medicine.

I feel very lucky, because no one ever told me “you’re too smart to go into family medicine,” (it wouldn’t have mattered if they did), I entered medical school hoping to be a family doctor, and I left medical school hoping to be a family doctor. And then I became one.

My other great fortune is that I became and work as a family physician in a multispecialty integrated medical group, where sub-specialists and other specialists take a genuine interest in family medicine and in a robust primary care system. My experience explains why I DON’T endorse activities or approaches that exclude specialists or their thinking, we are all necessary.

In the American Academy of Family Physicians announcement about Regina’s appointment, they referred to her as “bringing a family physician’s touch and sensitivity to our nation’s most pressing health care problems.” This statement is easily recognizable by family doctors as one of our strengths, and it touches on how much pride I have in being one. We are great collaborators, I am glad to experience what family doctors can do, and I would do it all over again if I had the chance.

Looking forward to sharing more at The Walking Gallery, on June 7, 2011, please join us.


Ted Eytan, MD