Member Spotlight | Tomás Owens, MD, FAAFP
Member Status: (Active, Resident, Student)
Where are you currently working or attending school?
INTEGRIS Great Plains Family Medicine Residency and INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center
How long have you been within the OAFP community?
Since 1988, 33 years and counting
Why did you choose family medicine? What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career or education?
My medical school included 3+ years of clinicals, encompassing compulsory rotations in a wide array of subspecialties. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, in one way or another. But none was sufficient and fulfilling by itself. In the end, I sought the specialty that provided continuity and comprehensiveness and that led to a truly meaningful relationship with my patients: Family Medicine.
I have been blessed with great memories from med school through residency and beyond. Academically, my med school and residency honors were extremely fulfilling. Being inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha as faculty was a distinct privilege that I’m very grateful for.
Practice-wise, I would choose the day that, as I was sitting with a dying patient of mine; I was called-to deliver his great-granddaughter, also my patient. I delivered her, returned to his bedside and sat with him and family as he passed. The following week, I attended his funeral. It all came full circle: birth to death, seamless as a ring.
Yet, in all fairness, every day is very fulfilling for a teacher. Passing an insight or skill to a resident, even if trivial, remains immensely satisfying.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your practice or education?
Today’s administrivia (e.g. prior authorizations, non-productive and unnecessary paperwork) is by far the most challenging aspect of my practice. I wholeheartedly appreciate the face-to-face time with my patients, the intellectual diagnostic reasoning and analysis, the counseling and the fellowship.
What is your work life balance like & how do you achieve it?
I can’t claim that my work-life balance is optimal, but I have been improving a lot in the last several years. I have put a high premium on family time. In earlier days: trying to make all school plays/children’s sports, by delaying paperwork to late night. More recently, starting the day early to do paperwork and striving to meet family weekend activities when not on call. I try to contact my wife and children electronically as often as is sensible and remind them that I love them and they’re special to me.
Who is your biggest role model?
My late parents. My mom was a Neonatologist and my dad started the first Family Medicine program in my native Panamá. My mom was strong and determined, never saw a challenge that she didn’t think she could positively affect. She also made a career in research and as a medical editor. Always curious, always resolute.
My dad was a true renaissance man, erudite, polyglot, versed in arts and sciences, a great conversationalist with a fantastic sense of humor. We had great talks often. He was a fair and visionary leader loved and respected by all. His patients adored him (his funeral mass overflowed into the avenue outside with another 500+ mourners)
What is your favorite quote?
Panta rei “everything flows” “nobody ever steps in the same river twice” -Heraclitus of Ephesus (c535-475 BCE).
It applies to many aspects of our lives: a patient has ever-changing circumstances, as such, you must reevaluate each time. Our tribulations shall also ‘flow’ into a better light, with time. Nothing is set on stone. There’s hope for the future, always
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Being with my family is tops. Whenever we can get together, we play board and other games (typically assembled by Tammy), do some cooking, and concoct libations
Reading, mostly news and non-fiction (history being my favorite self-indulgence). Lately, I was finally coerced into learning golf. It is a great challenge, and though a self-flagellating endeavor, is great to be outside doing something active.
Any advice for residents and students finishing their training or education?
Put your heart and soul into your patient’s well-being. You are their true advocate. Wellness emanates from that sense of purpose, you will be happier.
Then, go home and embrace your family/significant other, your outside life, equally passionately.