In January 1992, the first issue of Family Physician's Notebook: Diary from a Week in Practice was filled with stories ranging from nocturnal leg cramps in an elderly man, to pixie dust for a teen's contused foot, to treating scabies in a six-month-old infant. The first contributors to this new column were Walter L. Larimore, M.D., and John R. Hartman, M.D., family physicians in private practice in Kissimmee, Fla. This was to be the start of a series celebrating the diversity of family medicine and the many joys and challenges that family physicians face every day. The name was shortened to Diary from a Week in Practice in 1995.
When the “quill” was passed from Drs. Larimore and Hartman to a new set of contributors in 2001, the plan was to further emphasize the concept of diversity by selecting authors from different clinical settings. Four years later, after sharing many more amazing stories, it is time to say goodbye to these authors and thank them for all of their hard work.
Paul Gross, M.D
Dr. Gross, who recently transitioned from his faculty position in Yonkers, NY, to Montefiore Family Practice Residency Program in the Bronx, NY, was the most recent author to join the Diary crew in 2003. I asked Paul why he liked writing for the section. Among the many reasons he listed, my favorite was, “I liked puncturing the television image of the doctor as all-knowing and infallible; I enjoyed sharing those instances where I got egg on my face.”
Tony Miksanek, M.D
Dr. Miksanek is a solo practitioner in a rural health clinic in Benton, Ill. He caught my attention in his first set of diaries in November 2001 when he wrote that he sometimes transported his patients home. On one occasion, he drove an elderly woman 30 minutes to the nearest hospital to consult with a cardiologist for a pacemaker. That is full-spectrum family medicine!
John O'Handley, M.D
Dr. O'Handley, medical director of the Mount Carmel Outreach Program in Columbus, Ohio, shared many intriguing experiences treating patients on a mobile coach. His personal favorite was about a man who nearly died from the devastating effects of drug and alcohol addiction and miraculously turned his life around. John was inspired to see one of his patients undergo such dramatic lifestyle changes and sustain them.
Kathy Soch, M.D
As a faculty member of the Corpus Christi Family Residency Program in San Antonio, Tex, Dr. Soch liked writing for Diary because it made her realize how much she enjoys her job. Despite the daily challenges, including paper work, managed care, medical formularies, and lawsuits, writing about patient encounters enabled her to “think a lot about the patient's point of view as they confront many of these same obstacles.”
Time for a Change
It has truly been a pleasure editing this section for the past four years and seeing the authors grow as writers. The most gratifying part was when I would get to kick my feet up after a long day of patient care and read about someone else's week in the office. I would sometimes nod in agreement or compare notes, chuckle, and on occasion, sigh in relief that it was not my week! Unfortunately, after 15 years, it is time for Diary to call it a day. The insight to the doctor/patient relationship the section provided will be missed, but we hope to capture something similar in a new medical humanities department we are creating.