Finding Joy in the Practice of Medicine

Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians President’s Message

This message originally appeared in the summer 2022 edition of Minnesota Family Physician magazine.

Dear Colleagues, 

I was at the hospital for a delivery on July 1 and had the pleasure of meeting an intern on their very first day of work as a doctor. Their excitement and enthusiasm caused me to reflect on my first day of residency—the excitement I felt and the aspects of our profession that keep me engaged today. 

On my first day of residency, I was assigned to a sports medicine physician in Northfield. The commute from St. Paul gave me time to consider how much I would need to learn in the next three years. The provider I worked with clearly loved what he was doing and was generous with his knowledge. A summary of the day in my journal described it succinctly: “Felt like an idiot once, felt like a rockstar once.” 

Perhaps some of you had a similar feeling on your first day. The next three years went quickly—gathering new skills; learning about not just medicine, but different approaches to managing your clinic day; working as a team with nurses; and learning how to interact with patients. 

Nine years after completing residency, my days have become more routine and include managing the challenges that many of us deal with on a regular basis: early morning meetings, an in-basket that seems to explode in the time it takes me to see one patient, reams of paperwork and late arrivals. While I still love learning new skills, I find that my joy in my work now comes from two places: my patients and my colleagues

I’m fortunate to work with a fantastic group of physicians who are always willing to discuss a case, offering to add in a patient when someone is called out of the clinic for a delivery and bringing in treats for a birthday. I hope that each of you is as fortunate as I am in your professional circle. However, it’s the patients that keep me coming back. 

The relationships with patients that have been built over the past nine years that I’ve been in practice in West St. Paul are what lift me on a day-to-day basis, creating the bright spots we all need throughout the day. The pictures, cards and drawings patients have made for me are pinned up at my desk, reminding me about the impact we have on our patients—and that they have on us. 

If you interact with the next generation of family physicians, be they little kids seeing you in clinic, telling you they want to be doctors when they grow up, or slightly nervous interns, I hope you’ll take a minute to share what drew you to become a family physician. 

As you reflect on your journey, from the first day of internship to the place where you are practicing now, I hope that you are still finding joy in the practice of medicine. 

Alex Vosooney, MD
President, Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians

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