The "I Believe" series is a month-long co-blog on behavioral science education in partnership with the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM). Please check back each week.
I believe that although behavioral science faculty can have
years of training, experience, and can add so much to the improvement of our
patients, we continue to have an uphill battle in proving our value within
medical settings. As I recruit people to our program, I
make the statement that Family Medicine is like working with family for me and
feels as comfortable as home. I am fortunate to work with some of the best
people I know personally and professionally. In addition, I have met some great
people from around the United States who work in Family Medicine and share
similar attributes as my colleagues. However, my experiences have not always
been a happy and easy.
Although I came into a program with prior experience within
Family Medicine and there had been an established behavioral medicine program,
I was faced with the challenge of having to prove my expertise and value to our
residents. My strategy was to set boundaries and stick with them at all costs.
In my first year, I received evaluations from the residents that ranged from
"she is extremely helpful” to "she is not welcome here.” In my second year, I
was met with slightly more challenges. While providing feedback during resident
check outs, some residents would sit to where I was completely to their backs
as they presented a case. My evaluations included comments such as, "you’re not
a real doctor” or "you’re not welcome in the physician lounge because you are
not a physician...in fact you should not be considered faculty.”
While those are not pleasant experiences, I think one of the
worst experiences was when I sat down for lunch in the physician lounge and
residents either left or the ones coming in sat in a different area. There were
times I would go to my office, sit down and feel completely ineffective. I hate
to admit it, but there were times I cried. All the while, my physician faculty
stood beside me, supported me and told me that this would get better. They
asked for my input, consulted me when the residents would not, and gave me more
|As I am completing the lecture, |
I recognize an old familiar
feeling, stare into the audience
and realize that I might as well be promoting
the sell of snake oil.
In subsequent years, things began to change. I started to receive
pages from residents and curbside consults to ask me my thoughts about their
patients. I was even asked by a resident if they could do a rotation with me.
My evaluations began to include comments of "excellent,” "extremely helpful,” and
"wished I could see her more in clinic but I know she has other duties.” In one
of my more recent experiences, a resident asked me what they should do for a
patient’s joint pain. When I responded that I was a psychologist and not a
physician, the resident laughed and said "oh, yeah, I forgot.”
I’ve grown to
have relationships at the medical center across physician specialties and
seemingly have a positive reputation. So, as I am feeling confident that I have
overcome bias and have proven my worth as a member of the interdisciplinary
team, I walk proudly to another medicine department to give a lecture on
physician wellness. As I am completing the lecture, I recognize an old familiar
feeling, stare into the audience and realize that I might as well be promoting
the sell of snake oil as a cure for various medical ailments. I sigh and go
back to the Department of Family Medicine, where I feel at home and am satisfied
with my accomplishments. I’ll leave the job of establishing the value of
interdisciplinary care in that discipline to another individual and hope they
will one day be as valued there as I am in Family Medicine.
Molly Clark is currently an Assistant Professor and
Fellowship Director in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of
Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). She received her doctoral training in
Counseling Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi, completed her
residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and fellowship in Health
Psychology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She also holds an
appointment in the Department of Human Behavior and Psychiatry at the UMMC. Dr.
Clark’s area of specialty is in behavioral medicine with particular interests
in obesity, sleep, and mood disorders in primary care. She also has an interest
in teaching and training medical students and residents. She has a number of
publications and national presentations in these areas of interest.