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Tireless dedication

Photos: meet some of N.L.'s primary care providers and patients

Teaching and Learning

By Kelly Foss

Mental and physical. Rural and urban. Disabled and abled. Birth and end of life.

A photojournalism project that touches on just some of the countless individual circumstances family care physicians tend to is highlighting the positive impacts of primary care.

Inspired by Humans of New York, Drs. Alicia Roy and Kristen Peckford interviewed patients, physicians and administrative staff across Newfoundland and Labrador, all of whom shared their life-changing experiences with the discipline.

Titled The Faces of Family Medicine, the project was part of a research assignment the pair did during their family medicine residencies in the Faculty of Medicine.

A major research project is a requirement of the Doctor of Medicine Degree Program at Memorial University.

Reigniting passion

The women chose the topic as a way to broaden the conversation about primary care in the media that they had been following.

“Family physicians have remained committed to their patients despite unprecedented primary care shortages,” said Dr. Peckford. “They have put everything aside to put their patients first. We wanted to showcase the impacts of family medicine on the people of this province and remind ourselves, and others, why we love it.”

The participants represent each region of the province and their personal stories are accompanied by a submitted photo.

Each agreed to share their stories publicly.

“When we interviewed them, you could see doctors, who had been feeling the weight of the world, reflect back and realize why they loved their job,” said Dr. Roy. “It helped reignite our passion. I hope by sharing it, we will shine a light on the great work that is being done in the field and perhaps ignite the passion of others.”

1/ Patient

"One month before I was supposed to deliver, COVID-19 landed. When I left the hospital I actually still couldn't walk, I was in a lot of pain, I was having difficulty breastfeeding, I had no mobility and I had no support. I needed to see a physiotherapist, I needed to see a chiropractor, I needed to see a lactation consultant, and all those doors were closed. The only care that I had was from my family doctor, and she just took on every role. Now I have a two-year-old little girl who is just thriving, I am healthy and I am happy and it's all thanks to family medicine."

Photo: Submitted

2/ Obstetrician and gynecologist

"I feel that family medicine is crucial in the role of a specialist. Family physicians have such a broad spectrum of training. They are well trained in continuity of care. This allows me to have a consultant specialist role and they actually provide the care. My career as a specialist can't exist in the role that it does without family medicine."

Photo: Submitted

3/ Family physician

"Family medicine gives me an opportunity to care not only for the patient, but also the entire family, and to carry these patients through the cycle of life. You’re able to care for babies, their parents and often their grandparents. You become directly involved in the entire family and can be a positive influence on their health and well-being. It’s all part of the scope of family medicine; it’s providing all the possible aspects of medical care that we can, and when we can’t, it’s directing patients to people who will provide them with the help that they need."

Photo: Submitted

4/ Family physician

"I think there’s a beauty in the artistic side of trying to find the right path for the patient. There’s always more than one way to solve a problem. It’s trying to use the right side of my brain to find a common pathway of communication with the patient that I find so beautiful and unique to this profession. Since I’ve been in family medicine, I got back into theatre and back into music. I’ve always been a creative person, but I think family medicine has provided an ability to reawaken that creativity."

Photo: Submitted

5/ Family physician

"Family medicine is the backbone of medicine. Family physicians are all over the health-care system: they provide emergency care, they provide palliative care, they provide cancer care and, in my case, I provide older adult care and gender-diverse care. I’m really glad to show the different faces that family medicine can have within our communities to help people understand that family medicine really is woven throughout our health care and woven throughout our communities to support us."

Photo: Submitted

6/ Clinic clerical staff

"I’m the meet-and-greet person. I bring everyone into the rooms, set up the procedures and help the secretaries out front. I feel like I play an important role in my clinic. We’re treated like family, and you also have a level of respect for the people that you work for. We make sure to put the patient first. The satisfaction that you have by helping people in every way possible makes you realize this is an important job."

Photo: Submitted

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