I just finished my pediatrics and I am currently completing a rural adult medicine elective in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Since I’ve been a city girl all my life, I thought I was going to hate this elective. I thought it was going to be boring, isolated, and insular. Yet, the people and the town have proven me wrong every day and this elective might end up being my favorite out of them all.
During my time here, I have been able to experience a true independent private practice in action. There aren’t many private practice offices left out there anymore and this one is truly unique. Most of the doctors in this practice are in the process of transitioning to concierge medicine, where each person within their panel of patients pay an annual fee in exchange for yearly physicals, same-day sick visits, direct phone and email contact with the doctor, and more immediate care for more pressing issues. Patients are still be able to use their health insurance plans to cover the costs of prescription drugs, lab fees, and diagnostic imaging. In a way, I view this transition as a return back to the roots of medicine that emphasizes the doctor-patient relationship above all else. Already, I have seen how patients value visits with their physician that have protected time for education and counseling. Gone are the days of 30-40 15-minute appointments and instead, I have witnessed the careful assessment of a patient’s lab results and the deliberate care coordination for complex patients with more than 10 medications and medical conditions under their belt.
Moreover, I have seen how the doctors. nurses, and patients are all intricately connected with each other in addition to the neighborhoods in which they live. I have enjoyed learning about people’s lives and cherish what they have shared with me. I am especially grateful for the welcome and continued hospitality since I arrived. All these positive experiences make me wonder why I ruled out rural medicine in the first place. Could I be a country doctor, the champion of many underserved voices? Time will tell if I change my mind about where I envision practicing medicine.