by Christian Cupp, MD, FAAFP
STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
Family Medicine officially became a recognized specialty inthe late 1960’s, and many of the “giants” of our specialty were from right here in Kansas. These individuals laid the ground work for our specialty and residency programs as well as for our Kansas and national academies. It is our duty as current family physicians to carry on that legacy. I feel that we can do that in several different ways. We need to keep up with current trends in medicine that affect our patients in order preserve a valid specialty. We can do this by participating in CME, either at a conference such as our annual meeting, or online. We can also continue to be advocates for our specialty on local, statewide and national levels by participating in organizations like the KAFP.
For me at least, it’s pretty easy to become comfortable in my own little world and practice. It certainly would have been a lot easier to remain isolated in my practice, keep my head down and working…that’s where I’m most comfortable, being one-on-one with a patient…there’s no shame in doing that at all…I would simply ask that anyone out there who has a desire to serve our specialty beyond their practice, to step out of that comfort zone, and serve at the local, state or national level. I would also challenge you, if you already aren’t doing so, to take on a student in your office. It’s one thing to know what to do for your patient, but it’s another thing entirely to explain to a student why you are ordering that test or treatment. Working with students will make us better physicians. It also involves us as current family physicians to shape the next generation of “giants” in family medicine.
We’ve all given someone a piggy-back ride, or taken one ourselves at one time or another. As a family physician I’ve taken that ride myself; not wanting to stick my head up above theirs for the fear that I might get knocked down. We need to continue to strive for excellence, by daily pushing ourselves to become better family physicians. The founders of our specialty didn’t invest their time and energy into forming a specialty where we would simply serve as gate-keepers, directing patients to different specialists for their needs that we could take care of in our own hospitals and practices.
Sir Issac Newton is quoted as follows:
“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Let us continue the legacy of those that have come before us by standing proudly on their shoulders. And let us carry on the traditions of family medicine, whether in rural or urban practices, whatever our practice situation may be. If we do that we’ll find the view up there is pretty sweet!
Christian Cupp, MD, FAAFP