Why (not) Family Medicine?–Glen Stream, MD, MBI

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!


We come by different paths to the major choices in our lives:  choosing medicine as a career; choosing family medicine as our specialty.   A high school chemistry teacher who recognized my interest to combine an aptitude for science with a desire to help people inspired my path.  Upon entering medical school, meeting the family medicine faculty and other students interested in family medicine, I felt that I’d found “my people.”  The collegiality within the specialty is just one of its many rewards.


I admire the efforts family medicine takes to engage and embrace its youngest colleagues: residents and medical students.  At the recent AAFP National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students, a panel presentation discussed how young leaders could have a positive impact in improving our health care system.  A particular concern is how to have more medical students choose family medicine residency and build a stronger primary care foundation to the US healthcare system.


ZDoggMD was a celebrity guest panelist, sharing his message of how he works to make a difference.  He premiered his latest video, 7 Years (A Life in Medicine), artfully portraying the joys and challenges of a primary care career.  Several of the lyrics spoke to why I’m grateful for my career choice:


“I always had that dream…be a healer, take the time to know my patients story,

That subspecialty glory, just always seemed to bore me,

To make health primary, that passion always seemed to draw me.”


I feel blessed to have had patients take me into their lives, to make a difference in their health and the health of their families and communities.


“Soon, I’ll be sixty years old, will I look back on my road and see a job I did, hell no, I’ll see a calling.”


I turned 60 years old just a few days after the video premiered.  I continue to practice, but milestone birthdays always seem to trigger a look back at ones life.   As I reflect on 30+ years of practice, the relationships with my patients and my colleagues, I know the rewards are more than worth the effort.  Family medicine is my calling.


Glen Stream, MD, MBI is President and Board Chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health (fmahealth.org)

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