OUCOM Class of 2023
In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless healthcare enterprises across the world have changed for the indefinite future. OAFP’s FPO program was no different from these, having to limit the number of applicants who would be awarded the opportunity to participate. I am extremely grateful to myself for making that extra call and being allowed to be one of those students to partake. Kari Webber was essential to this process for me, and exceedingly helpful. Thank you, Kari, for working on my behalf to help make this happen! Thank you to the OAFP for conceiving of and perpetuating this program. It turned out to be an experience I wouldn’t exchange for any other.
My FPO sponsor was Dr. James Beebe who practices family medicine at OU Physicians South Memorial clinic in Tulsa. While I spent most of my time at this clinic, let me start my recount in Muskogee. To get a better taste of a more rural setting than Tulsa, Dr. Beebe–who formerly practiced in Muskogee, OK–sent me there to work with Dr. Brad McIntosh in his private family medicine clinic.
The most impressive part of practicing medicine in the towns outside suburban Oklahoma is the versatility exhibited by the providers. Dr. McIntosh is a family medicine doctor who also serves as the OB/GYN for many of his patients, and often delivers babies and performs Caesarean sections. This does not come to mind quickly when I consider “primary care.” Dr. McIntosh also practices in an Allergy Clinic on a weekly basis, although it was not open during my stint with him. Dr. McIntosh took me to the ICU to see a patient, and met another in the ER following a TIA. He is now a family medicine doctor, an OB/GYN, an allergist, and a hospitalist. His partner, Dr. Jason Dansby, is a family medicine doctor who additionally does colonoscopies. The variety of work possible for a family medicine doctor certainly piques my attention.
Between his many roles as a physician, Dr. McIntosh also makes time to be involved in his church and heads a beautiful family, to whom I was warmly introduced. He is very busy, and means to serve a great number of neighbors from his community and the greater region, but he finds a way to maintain balance.
I would describe Dr. McIntosh as chipper, ornery, and engaging. Dr. McIntosh is undoubtedly assertive in his leadership while remaining a team player. He is one who approaches his staff amicably. He is one to approach his patients warmly, and to always prioritize the wishes of the patients. Many of his patients come from surrounding towns and routinely commute an hour to-and-from his office. When the patients routinely drive an hour to Muskogee and back to see their doctor, it’s clear the patients believe they’ve found a good one. With ties to multiple generations within a handful of families represented in his clinic, Dr. McIntosh is connected to those families and their friends and neighbors.
I have made much to do about Dr. McIntosh to serve this point. He is an exceptional individual, certainly, yet the communities he serves seem to respect him proportionally. It is what he means to his community that makes him special. The importance of his many roles became evident when a patient said, “This guy here has been the best to me. God bless him! When I get hurt, who do I call?” The patient gestures at Dr. McIntosh. “When my ma was sick, who did I call? When I was in the hospital, who came to see me? Dr. McIntosh. This guy’s the best.” It is evident when a patient exclaims, “This man delivered both of my babies!”
From the patients’ points of view, Dr. McIntosh appears to be a trusted counselor. He holds an esteemed reputation in a town where he knows many of the members of all the churches, city councils, the hospital, and small businesses; and, he is interconnected with friends, family, and neighbors of the folks aforementioned. It is evident in a more rural setting how a strong family medicine doctor can become central and integral to the community he or she practices in. Dr. McIntosh has achieved that in Muskogee.
Muskogee has the benefit of being close enough to Tulsa to refer patients to specialists near the metro. I think about what practicing might be like if that benefit was not retained. I want to experience a more rural environment than Muskogee before I apply for residency. I suspect it would only magnify the necessity for a primary care physician to be apt and competent in several other categories of medicine. I think that’s really cool! I wouldn’t have likely felt that way without having joined the FPO program this summer.
Most of my FPO experience was spent with Dr. Beebe in south Tulsa. By the end of the first three shifts, I knew this experience would be important; perhaps, the most important experience of my MS1 year. I give thanks now to Dr. Beebe, who is the person who made this experience exceptional. He has become a mentor and a friend to me, and nothing means more to me than having experiences like that, especially in the professional setting where some can be very guarded. Dr. Beebe was open about his previous experiences in family medicine–in which he also demonstrated notable versatility–and invited me to ask questions about balancing personal life with professional life. This made for a fast friendship between us.
Dr. Beebe’s good nature has built his reputation in the community as he cares for adult and elderly patients in addition to practicing a great deal of wound care at both his clinic and Hillcrest hospital. I spoke at length about the considerable rapport Dr. McIntosh builds with his patients. But, I have yet to see a doctor spoken-of and treated so fondly by his patients as Dr. Beebe is. Even with several great providers closer to home, dozens and dozens of patients come to Tulsa from Muskogee, Coweta, Wagoner, and even Eufala and Fort Gibson just to see Dr. Beebe. Apparently, these patients were not interested in getting a new primary care doctor, and never hesitated to tell me how much they liked and appreciated Dr. Beebe, whether he was nearby or not. They were patients of all different demographics and SES who lauded him. Multiple patients credited him with saving their lives, something that gets swept under the rug to some extent with primary care. Dr. Beebe’s community loved him so much, they let him stretch the route another 45 minutes with smiles on their faces.
Of course, Dr. Beebe and I talked at great length about medicine, and he was informative and honest. One advice I gleaned from him is to know your capabilities as a physician. He was not too proud to refer patients to specialists at the point when his comfortability with treating a particular condition waned. I am one to act with the presumption I am pursuing self-sufficiency and expediency, when I might not be considering the well-being of the patient. Dr. Beebe, to the greatest extent possible, makes sure the patient’s desires are met. He builds trust quickly, because it is clear that people really do matter to him. I couldn’t think of a higher aspiration.
I am deeply grateful to have been partnered with him, and would have been happy to just continue on working at his clinic through July! Is there another stipend laying around? Kidding. Sort of..
I have spent most of my training time thus far as a scribe in a metro ER in OKC, and EM has been my favorite field since. Now that I have dipped my toes in family medicine, I am well aware that continuity of care and closer relationships with my patients are powerful components of my experiences as a medical professional. It is clear that family medicine doctors anchor themselves in community and become that person relied-upon by many when things are going wrong. This is a role I would appreciate having, but I understand it takes a special kind of doctor and leader to be a successful family medicine doctor, to care best for your patients day in and day out. I also feel confident that I can join this field and maintain a suitable life balance. I see a bright future for myself in family medicine, though I know there is a long road ahead of me still. The FPO program changed the way I view not just primary care, but medicine as a whole. I am supremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in it. I look forward to following up with my new mentors and with family medicine.
Stephen Stacy, OUCOM Class of 2023