Why (not) Family Medicine? – Michael Magill, MD

Why (not) Family Medicine? is a series of posts from health care thought leaders, both inside and outside of Family Medicine. These will be posted every Friday. The participants were asked to focus on whatever they wanted in response to this question. We are glad that so many of these impressive leaders were willing to participate, and we hope that you enjoy their responses!


Imagine… helping a family through a difficult pregnancy, attending delivery of their healthy baby, “walking with” them through the amazing transitions of children and growing families, stresses of parenting, episodes of acute illnesses, and truly miraculous prevention we provide for the once-terrifying diseases of childhood.


Imagine… supporting hard working, aging immigrants as they negotiate the complex challenges of chronic illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, arthritis, asthma, and depression – sometimes all at once – despite burdens of poverty, pollution, and prejudice.


Imagine… leading an interdisciplinary team of excited health care colleagues, patients, families, public health, and communities, as you build trusting, healing relationships to improve the health of your neighbors and patients, all while reducing total cost of care.


You can do this and so much more as a Family Physician… care for patients and communities, conduct cutting edge research that matters, teach, lead health systems, advocate for your patients, tackle complex intellectual challenges.


But we are not the first to claim this amazing privilege. While I am in my 36th year as a Family Physician, I proudly claim deep roots in general practice through my grandfather, H.A. Moore, MD, who practiced 50 years (1915-1965) from a one-room home office in small town Ohio. He cared for neighbors throughout their lifetimes and without limit by social, emotional, or medical condition. He did not need to talk about continuing, comprehensive, accessible, compassionate, community-oriented care. It was simply good medicine: the expression of his values of service, commitment, and caring.


Diseases, tests, and treatments have changed enormously since “Grandpa Doc” left practice over 50 years ago. We now address multiple chronic conditions, implement complex treatment, wield powerful tools of prevention, manage infinitely more complex information, care systems, and payment. But we harness these in service of, not as substitutes for, the personal healing relationships embodied by the best of our general practice forebears.  And now we offer the kind of care, intellect, vision, and leadership most needed by our patients, communities, and American health care. Welcome to Family Medicine!

Michael Magill, MD

Michael Magill, MD is the Chairman of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

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