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Reflections on My First Five Years in Family Practice

Welcome to the Inaugural ACFP First Five Year Blog Post!

Our first post will be look back at my first year of practice after graduating residency. The first posting is Part 1 of three where I will focus on things I learned about myself and adapting to a new life of being the staff physician.

PART 1: Reflections on Being a Fresh Grad

There is a learning curve

I remember my first day in clinic after graduating like it was yesterday—I had a full schedule of patients and this was it—I’m a big boy now. Thinking about it now, there were many things I didn’t know that I had to quickly learn on the fly. I was always told there was a learning curve coming out of residency but I didn’t understand it until I experienced it for myself.

There is more than one way to practice medicine
As a learner, there was always only one way to practice that I knew of – the way of my preceptor. Now that I’m on my own, I see how people approach problems differently and this is ok. Medicine is an art and a science.

Textbook cases are not the norm.
As a resident, one of my preceptors had a favourite saying – after discussing cases she’d often sit back in her chair and say “Ah, the uncertainty of family medicine”. I don’t think I genuinely appreciated what that meant until after graduating. Now, I truly appreciate that most cases are a shade of gray.

Don’t be afraid to teach.
Teaching a student, or heaven forbid, a resident can be a bit daunting when you yourself are fresh out of residency. Don’t worry – despite your own fears you do have something to offer as you have more experience and time in the game. It’ll also keep your knowledge sharp and provide you with some outside perspective on your medical practice.

Medicine is always changing and the practitioner is always evolving; I suppose this is why it’s called the practice of medicine! What four things did you learn about yourself in your first year of practice? Please feel free to leave comments below!

Don’t forget to check back here next month for Part 2: Reflections on Practice Management.

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