Monday, November 24, 2008

Choosing to practice in an underserved community

When I entered medical school, I had decided that I wanted to practice medicine in an underserved area. So what is a medically underserved area (MUA)?

There are many ways MUAs are identified. Mostly they involve considering the number of primary care doctors (Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine) in relation to the area's population. In my case, I was looking at both federal- and state-designated MUAs. I couldn't really see the value in being another doctor working in another well-off community when there were (and are) so many MUAs. Medicine is inherently a service career; I wanted my service to be meaningful.

My interest in working in a MUA developed after I spent a weekend on Virginia's Eastern Shore in 1995, during my senior year in college. I had never really spent much time in a rural area before. The Eastern Shore is only a 30 minute drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Virginia Beach, but at that time it felt like another world. Poverty, poor health care access and poor health outcomes were endemic. This experience helped me decide that I wanted to make a difference, and service in a MUA seemed the right way to do it.

So I entered medical school committed to practicing in a rural underserved community. Then, I had to figure out what sort of doctor I wanted to be.

(to be continued...)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

So, here it is...

I've recently discovered Richmond, Virginia's extensive local news blog network (collected at RVAnews) and I've spent a lot of time there and other related blogs. My wife also has a couple of blogs b/c she's downright creative and awesome (Galaxy Girl Radio, MonkeyDog Studio). So I guess I've realized how much is out there, and I'm feeling both jealous and a little left out.

So I went ahead and set up this little production. We'll see how it goes.

The big question: if another random person starts another blog that no-one sees, does it really matter? I hope it'll be interesting enough. Just getting started, so I'll add more information soon about why I'm bothering with this.

To explain the name real quick: I'm a family physician working in Richmond, VA at a medical center which exists to provide care to underserved and underprivileged communities. I've spent my medical career to date in medically underserved settings (in the U.S. and abroad). Hopefully I've learned something along the way, and hopefully I can pass along some interesting or useful thoughts/opinions/insights.

I'm kind of amazed no-one had taken this URL yet...