I am a second generation Physician. My father is a Family Practice Physician. My mother is a Registered Nurse. Of my four siblings, there is an emergency physician, ICU nurse and an osteopathic physician. Conversations around the dinner table can get interesting, to say the least.
From a young age I knew I wanted to be a doctor. Some are called to this vocation through their own healing journey. For me, it came out of wishing that this would be my profession, as I watched my dad devote his days to helping others. I am honoured that this dream has become my reality. Following in my father’s footsteps.
My medical bag may differ from my fathers. Mine carries herbs, food, nutrients and energetics. His bag carries prescription medicine. Yet our goals are the same: to help relieve patients from pain and sickness.
My father trained in a small town in Ireland, at University College Galway. His first entry into the Americas was in his residency at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He landed his first family practice in London, Ontario where he did stints treating the Attawapiskat First Nation community. He volunteered for twenty years with his association in Ontario to work on changing the access to health care for the Ontario people. For the last twenty years he has dedicated himself to his practice in Alabama working hard at treating the epidemic of Diabetes in that state.
You see medical school in the 1960s was in the era prior to medical technology. Doctors were trained in the skills of palpation (touch) and listening. Physicians needed to rely on the office visit and their intuition to come to a diagnosis. Modern diagnostic tests have saved many lives, yet this advancement is quickly leading to a loss in the art of palpation and the doctor-patient relationship.
During my medical training, I was lucky to have had the chance to have a rotation with my father. He transferred his deep listening skills to me. I saw him time and time again use diagnostic tests to simply confirm a hunch, not a means of searching for a pea in a haystack.
Understanding the value of listening was a meaningful part of my training. To look at the patient in front of me, instead of what the numbers and papers say. All too often I see patients that have a clean bill of health as said from the reports, yet they don’t feel well and don’t understand why.
When I was a young girl, I thought my daddy knew everything. To top that he was an educated man, the top of his field. Like every young girl, I was surprised when I found out that he too could have questions unanswered.
This revelation came when I was seeing a patient with my father who had a complex disease. I watched as my father directly told the patient that he didn’t know what the treatment would be. After leaving the patient, my father went into his office referenced his medical books and called a colleague. I learned two things from that encounter: honesty with your patients and keep searching until you find your answer. I still think my dad knows everything, with a new twist of also knowing where to look for the answers.
This year, my father’s College is honouring him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The medical profession and his patients are blessed to reap from his dedication. I am blessed to have my dad help shape my career with solid traditional values.
This is my story and why my dad is my hero.