A little late, but this is a small piece of my Spring APDIM experience that I forgot to publish.
For the second time, I had the privilege of attending an APDIM conference. For spring 2014 it was held in Nashville, Tennessee. And just like Fall APDIM 2013 in New Orleans, the streets were filled merriment, music and food while the conference halls were filled with bright minds, ideas and tokens of inspiration for medical educators like me.
This was essential my first trip to a “southern city” (Florida doesn’t count). True to southern tradition, hospitality was abundant. Though diverse in its population, the southern twang was prominent and enjoyable for a Yankee New Yorker like me. Downtown was lined with bars and restaurants all staged with talented musicians raucously playing traditional country, rock and honky tonk into the late hours as locals and tourists danced with each other in small smoke filled venues. Add to this, jubilant fans of the UCONN huskies women’s basketball team emptied Bridgestone arena into downtown one night. “Nash-Vegas” as my taxi driver called it, was kicking.
It was this same taxi driver who on my first night in Nashville brought me back to my physician roots and reminded me why I was there in the first place. As a primary care physician, I love stories. It is the story of each life, whether it is drama, tragedy or comedy and its successful completion under our watch that makes this a gratifying career choice. It was his successful story that makes our field an important part of the fabric of American society.
As we drove to downtown Nashville, he told me he was from Acapulco Mexico. He immigrated to the USA in hopes for a better life 25 years ago. He started in Texas and left despite the large Mexican community. He took a chance on Nashville. He worked nights driving a taxi so that he could purchase a home for his family. Eventually he turned his 1st house over for a profit and built a dream home. He was quick to tell me his home would cost millions in New York. Along the way, he fell in love with a nurse, raised two kids who currently attend top rated colleges. His story doesn’t end there. He continues to work nights to save up to start his own business. He wants to create a Latino southern themed department store to cater to immigrant populations that are homesick and struggling to find their own American dream. I never asked what medical problems he had or what role his doctor played in fulfilling this life. But I know every day when I see patients in my office, whether it’s through prevention or managing chronic illness, my mission is to ensure illness doesn’t derail a story like his. And if illness does catch a gentleman like him, we as primary care physicians treat and guide them so that his story has a happy ending.