Elizabeth Toman, MD
Requests for Single Reprints: Elizabeth Toman, MD, New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System, 1501 San Pedro Drive Southeast, Albuquerque, NM 87108; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Toman E.; Family Doctor. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:907-908. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-149-12-200812160-00012
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(12):907-908.
I always wanted to be the family doctor. That is not to say that I regret my decision to be an internist. The narrower scope and focus on chronic illnesses suits me better than the impossibly broad field of family medicine. But my vision of being a doctor always included an image of my mother, otoscope in hand, examining a cousin or neighbor at our dining room table. She was our family's doctor.
Maybe it was difficult to get health insurance for outpatient visits in the 1960s. Perhaps my Depression-era aunts and uncles would simply never pay for something they could get for free. Whatever the reasons, our kitchen was often used as an examination room, and it was there that I watched my mother at work. Most often she saw my cousins: She treated their coughs, sore throats, and earaches. I suppose the adults wanted the privacy of the bedroom, or maybe they had their own doctors. Her large, black doctor bag was always there amid holiday gatherings, nestled in the corner among the leftover turkey carcass and empty pie tins—ready just in case. After dinner, I was often torn between escaping outdoors with the other children and staying close by, risking recruitment into dishwashing, to observe the ritual of examination.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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