Insider Perspective from a PA in Family Medicine

The Specialty is Challenging but Rewarding 

July 16, 2021

Amber Davis, PA-C, left, practices family medicine with her colleauge Afua Akhi-Gbade, MD, as part of Emory’s Farmworker Project.

Amber Davis, PA-C, has been practicing family medicine for four years. She was interested in the specialty from the start of her PA career, drawn to the idea of treating the “whole patient” rather than a single body system. Davis also found the variety of ailments, diagnoses, and treatments she would see in family medicine appealing. She shares her insider perspective on the specialty.

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What do you wish you had known before you started working in family medicine?
I wish I had been more prepared for how extremely challenging the first year was. Of course, there is a steep learning curve for any new practitioner in any specialty, but the breadth and depth of knowledge required to treat patients in primary care is truly daunting and the first year is especially difficult.

Has anything surprised you about working in family medicine?
How much autonomy I have in my practice. I work with a great team of healthcare providers, and we all support each other. While I am able to collaborate with my team members at any time, I am also trusted to practice on my own. Also surprising – the amount of paperwork!

[Family Medicine on Demand]

What do you find most rewarding? 
I have three very rewarding things to mention. When a patient tells me that they heard about me from or were referred to me by a family member. It is the biggest compliment to know that my patients trust me enough to care for the people they love. It is not unusual for me to see two or three generations of one family, so I really feel like I know them on a personal level.  It puts the “family” in family medicine.

Davis says the first year of practicing family medicine was challenging but rewarding. 

I also find it rewarding when I am giving a recommendation to a patient and they say, “I trust you.” It’s a simple statement but a strong reminder that the care we provide has such a significant impact on our patients’ lives.

Finally, it’s extremely rewarding to see a patient make progress. Whether they quit smoking, lose weight, lower their blood sugar, or make some other positive change, I get to see it and celebrate it with them at follow-up appointments. We actually do a “happy dance” together!

What one piece of advice would you give to a PA student or new graduate who is considering the specialty?
Be prepared for a tough first year! Try to find a colleague who is also new to family medicine, or a mentor who will meet with you a couple of times a month. Either will help you manage the information overload, navigate administrative burdens, and increase medical knowledge to become a better practitioner. It’s hard, but family medicine is extremely rewarding.

Amber Davis, PA-C, currently practices with Emory Family Medicine and is an adjunct faculty member at Emory University School of Medicine PA program. 

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