Inspiration Leadership Community

Latest Posts

In the last Progress Notes of the year, editor Sonya Collins shares why story telling is so powerful.  If you're making a New Year's resolution to get more involved with Primary Care Progress in 2013, start by sharing your story on Progress Notes. 

By Sonya Collins

I used to be a language teacher (English & Portuguese) before I returned to school to get a degree in medical journalism, the degree that led me to become the editor of Progress Notes. Going back to school to leave a career teaching in the humanities and become a science journalist felt like a radical change at the time. But the more experience I gain, the more I see that what compelled me to teach languages is the same thing that draws me to storytelling.
One of the highlights of my teaching career was teaching English to the seamstresses at a midtown Manhattan garment factory.  Two days a week, the ladies – about two-thirds of them Hispanic and the other third Chinese – got to knock off early with pay and come to the break room for English class.  These ladies had been working together in the same sewing room for years, decades some of them. They’d been sharing the same break room and bathroom, and attending the same company Christmas parties, but it didn’t take me long to realize, they had never spoken to each other before.
Posted by Sonya Collins on Dec 20, 2012 10:13 AM EST
At the Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit this September, PCP chapter leaders from around the country learned some of the skills needed to mobilize for better primary care training on their campuses. Among those skills, students learned to tell the story of why they were drawn to primary care, also known as The Story of Self. Here, Daniel Kim, a summit participant, shares his story.

By Daniel Kim

I like to solve problems. The engineer in me loves a challenge as well as the creative process of finding solutions. I also care a lot about people, particularly the suffering, the impoverished, and the vulnerable of this world. My faith commands me to “seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
These two things led me to medicine. I saw that there were grand challenges in health care, both in the molecular puzzles that held the key to treatments and in the health disparities between those with resources and those without – the oppressed, the fatherless, the widows.
Initially interested in global health, I soon came to see that there were important problems to solve in our own medical system. The disparities in health services showed two Americas: one America has the means to achieve the best outcomes medicine can offer; the other offers health services and outcomes comparable to those of a developing country. I began to wonder. Was it a lack of technology? Was it a lack of money? Was it negligence on the part doctors?
Posted by Sonya Collins on Dec 18, 2012 9:45 AM EST
Internist explains why the current work flow of a primary care physician is unsustainable and how lower salary and substantial debt add up to little financial incentive to work.

By Lydia Dugdale, M.D.

Don't make me leave primary care. You need a doctor, and I love what I do. But this work just isn't sustainable.

In 2009, I finished medical training and joined a clinical academic practice. For those not in the know, doctors can -- very generally speaking -- work in one of two domains: in private practice, or on faculty at a medical school where they see patients, teach, and/or do research. Some docs manage to keep a foot in both academics and private practice, but for most, it's one or the other.

I stayed in academic medicine for many of the reasons that my colleagues did: to be immersed in the front lines of new knowledge, do a bit of teaching, and care for complex and diverse patients. I chose a salaried position, unencumbered by concerns of paying overhead or running a business. And even though academic physicians tend to earn less than those in private practice, I have no question that I am in the right place. I love my work. And more importantly, I love caring for my patients.

But primary care is broken across the board. The work is unsustainable. I'll tell you why.

Posted by Sonya Collins on Dec 13, 2012 10:41 AM EST
At the Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit this September, PCP chapter leaders from around the country learned some of the skills needed to mobilize for better primary care training on their campuses. Among those skills, students learned to tell the story of why they were drawn to primary care, also known as The Story of Self. Here, Kat Wakeham, who was a leadership coach at the summit, shares her story.

By Kat Barnes

I met Paula during the first month of my longitudinal third-year clerkship, the day she learned her breast biopsy was positive for cancer. This meeting began a yearlong relationship in which I was both a learner and a novice caregiver. As a young clinician, I met Paula’s family after her mastectomy to give news that her tumor was removed with clear margins. When Paula was hospitalized on six separate occasions for complications related to her chemotherapy, I met her and her family in the emergency room each time and provided the physicians on call with a longitudinal perspective on the course of her illness and treatment. Beyond this medical role, however, I felt the power of our developing bond. While I could not guarantee Paula a cure, I could commit to accompany her on her medical journey and support her through uncertainty. This relationship became my model for what medicine could be at its very best, and what I hope to cultivate through the rest of my career.
Posted by Sonya Collins on Dec 11, 2012 10:10 AM EST
Having seen specialists her whole life, this cystic fibrosis patient only learned as an adult the value of building a relationship with a primary care doctor. Fortunate that her doctor was as open to learning from patients as educating them, Stenzel was able to encourage her doctor to talk to others about the importance of organ donation.

By Anabel Stenzel

I am a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient with a complex medical history that either intrigues or intimidates medical providers. At 40, I’ve dealt with a lifetime of progressive lung disease, gastrointestinal complications and other later onset issues from CF such as osteopenia, diabetes and bowel cancer. I often joke that the recessive CF gene that my identical twin sister and I inherited from our Japanese mother and German father is the “gift that keeps on giving.”

Throughout my childhood, I only saw specialists, and was under the impression that primary care pediatricians were only for “normal” kids.  Not until adulthood and a change of insurance requiring a primary care gatekeeper did I meet my first “normal” person’s doctor- my primary care provider. After two double lung transplants by the age of 35, and progressive CF gut disease, I honestly thought, “What could a primary care physician offer me?”
Posted by Sonya Collins on Dec 6, 2012 10:06 AM EST
This med student fought hard against her desire to become a doctor because she feared it also meant becoming her parents.  

By Lauren Visser

When I was little, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. As the daughter of two primary care physicians who are in practice together, I have been exposed to medicine for as long as I can remember. I used to go to my parents’ office after school and listen to my younger brother’s heartbeat with a stethoscope and marvel at the instruments in the lab and the thousands of charts in the back rooms. Medicine was magical to me. I wanted to be just like my parents, wearing a white coat with a stethoscope draped around my neck and a hospital badge clipped to my front pocket.
However, as a teenager, it seemed to me that becoming a doctor simply meant becoming my parents, and I wanted more than that. I wanted to define my future by my rules, not by some precedent my parents had set. So by the time I started college, I was dead-set against pursuing medicine. I was convinced that there was a more suitable path for me. 
Posted by Sonya Collins on Dec 4, 2012 10:25 AM EST
Recognizing that health care equity will require physicians who are great leaders, not just great clinicians, University of Washington medical students call for leadership training at their school.

By Nasim Babazadeh

During my first year of medical school, I attended a public meeting on a new bill that would fund clean energy jobs for residents of the Puget Sound region.  There I met a woman who was ecstatic that medical students were present at the meeting.  At the age of 65, her husband was laid off work, and consequently they were no longer able to pay for health insurance.  After a long life as healthy, middle income, working members of society, the couple, now in their 60s, lost their insurance at the time when they both felt they needed it most.  This new piece of legislation was a promising proposition for getting people back to work and insured again. 
As a future physician and, therefore, a health care advocate, I understand that the health of a community and its members is often achieved outside of the clinic.  Acknowledgment of this fact is what brought my classmates and me – members of a student group called the Health Equity Circle – to this event 30 miles south of campus, despite the hours of studying that lay ahead before class early the next morning.
Posted by Sonya Collins on Nov 29, 2012 10:34 AM EST
Primary care advocates across the country are telling their Stories of Self to explain why they were drawn to primary care. Here's the story primary care resident Stella Safo shared last year as a fourth-year med student, and it's worth sharing again.

By Stella Safo, M.D.

It's Saturday night at an emergency department (ED) in Boston, MA, and I am faced with a medical student’s dream dilemma: which one of the many interesting cases should I observe? Should I watch trauma surgeons operate on the 17-year-old gunshot victim or work with the ED docs to assess whether a 59-year-old woman is having an acute stroke? That is exactly what I adored about emergency medicine as a third-year student: I could observe, in real time, a variety of patients with conditions that ran the gamut from splinters to near-death experiences.

It was not a surprise, then, that one of the first elective rotations I chose for my fourth year of medical school was emergency medicine. I thought I would love the fast pace and diverse patient populations in the ED. However, something happened on the way to fourth year.
Posted by Sonya Collins on Nov 27, 2012 10:23 AM EST
Primary care advocates across the country are telling their Stories of Self to explain why they were drawn to primary care. Here's the story med student Daniel Gordon shared last year, and it's worth sharing again.

By Daniel Gordon


I grew up as a patient of family doctors in Hartwell, Georgia, population 4, 287. My hometown had zero specialists, so my first exposure to medicine was through our family physician. The waiting room at Dr. Stone’s office was one of the most diverse places I had ever been. The patients were young and old, black and white, and I liked this. In the exam room, I studied a model of the spine and Dr. Stone’s tools.
As soon as he came into the room, he’d always make me laugh.
I don’t remember the reasons for these childhood visits, but I remember that he always made me (and my parents) feel comfortable and open – and better.
At some point it occurred to me that Dr. Stone was treating all those diverse patients that I had seen in the waiting room in that very same exam room and beyond.  This family practice in a rural town, where it seems so few doctors want to practice, was making an impact on the entire community.
By the time I was in high school, I had made it a goal to serve my small town in the same way that Dr. Stone did. 
Posted by Sonya Collins on Nov 20, 2012 10:11 AM EST
For National Primary Care Week in October, we asked members of our community to write about why primary care is the future of health care.  Dr. Kenny Lin wasn't going to respond at first -- then he had a change of heart.  

By Kenny Lin, M.D.

When Primary Care Progress asked me to write a blog post for National Primary Care Week on the theme “Why is primary care the future of health care?” I didn't end up contributing a post. I was concerned that the question was too physician-centric (rather than patient-centered), and I also felt that I had nothing new to say on the topic that I hadn't already written before.
Today, however, while teaching a group of first-year medical students about the patient-centered medical home and its potential to put primary care back in the center of the health system, which in my opinion is exactly where it belongs, I had second thoughts. As the "Healthcare Headaches" blogger for U.S. News and World Report from 2010-11, I often wrote about the future of health care through my perspective as a family physician. Below I've assembled some links to, and excerpts from, some of my posts that I think do a good job of describing why primary care is the future of health care.
Posted by Sonya Collins on Nov 15, 2012 11:45 AM EST
< Prev    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
First-person stories from the front lines of primary care.

Submit a story!


Write a Progress Note! Find the complete writer's guidelines here.

Most Recent Comments

Great site. Lovely committed work of true fan(s). All the very best
Internal Medicine Journal
Fitness is an essential part of our life or you can say that its the necessity of our life especially mental health because our complete life depends around our health or fitness level. Herbs and plants are the best source of it and easy to take in form of vegetables and fruits. Mardana Taqat described in detail abou...
I want to use this opportunity to thank Dr.Clifford for making me a complete woman again, i was infected with herpes for years i have been seriously praying to God and searching for cure. I came here last month to search for solution to my herpes infection and i saw a comment of people praising different doctors and God directed me to choose Dr.Clifford and i c...
No doubt, Health plays vital role to get success in life because our whole life is entirely depends on it. We should increase the usage of herbs/plants in our food as our forefathers used it, not only in food but for curing diseases. I have also read about few herbs at There are also many other ways to use herbs for physical well-being. These...
Nice blog. The article you have shared is good.This article is very useful. My friend suggest me to use this blog. I am writing thesis on the topic climate change and global warming at essay writing service reviews( Thank you for sharing.

Join the Primary Care Progress Community and be part of the conversation!  
(It's free!)

  • Connect with a national network of trainees, clinicians, and patients.
  • Access the members-only updates; primary care policy, education, and delivery; and find mentors and mentees locally and nationwide.
  • Attend webinars or conferences.
  • Share your stories and successes through Primary Care Progress Notes blog.
  • Receive our monthly newsletter, PCP in Practice.