South County Newspapers, July 28, 2010
Family practice physician. That’s the doctor most of us see first, the real gatekeeper for medical care for tens of millions of people in the United Status.
In this day of specialties it has been difficult to tempt medical students to embrace the specialty of general practice rather than the many specialties that exist. To show medical students about the benefits and realities of family practice, the California Academy of Family Practice developed a summer preceptor program. Mee Memorial Hospital physicians have embraced the program for more than a dozen years, since 1996.
“The medical students are really at the beginning for their training,” said Dr. Bruce Greenberg, longtime family physician at Mee Memorial in King City. “They have only completed their first year of training and most of that has been in the classroom, so this is really their first opportunity to see what family practice is really like.”
There are about 50 openings for the program throughout the state each year, of which 35 are in urban areas and 15 in rural areas like Southern Monterey County.
“The students spend one month with a preceptor and get a stipend during that time,” he added.
The student usually stays with his or her preceptor so they get to do more with the family and see how family practice is in its entirely, not just in the clinical setting, but how the doctor interacts with the community. While a budding physician has not come to King City every summer, Greenberg said there has been one most years.
“It really gives students who are at the early stages of their careers an opportunity to find out what it is like to practice medicine. They see the dynamics and how medical care fits into the community. It is a very good experience.”
All that interaction and training has come full circle. One of the students where were in King City in 2003 is now a fully qualified family practice doctor and has chosen to come back to King City. Dr Khuong Phui (pronounced Kong Foo-ee) is now on staff at Mee Memorial, practicing most days at the Greenfield clinic. Raised in the Los Angeles area, he had his medical training at Western University in Pomona and his residency in Harrisburg, Penn.
“He is the first medical student that has come back here,” said Dr. Greenberg. “I kept in touch with him throughout his medical training over the years, when he was doing his residency in Pennsylvania.
In December of 2008 we interviewed him and in the next few months he said he wanted to come here.”
Dr. Phui began his medical career in King City in April.
“I think it is an excellent program,” said Dr. Phui. “It really gives the medical student the opportunity to see what practicing medicine is all about. Shadowing a doctor who helps guide and direct you after that first year in medical school really helps you evaluate if it is something you want to do.
Dr. Phui said he started out to be a surgeon. “I really liked that field, but with two small children (now three), I decided that it would be better if I pursued family practice. I decided on King City because I was already familiar with the area, knew some of the staff and wanted to have my family located in a rural setting. I have found that this is a very supportive medical team.
“Dr. Greenberg was instrumental in my coming here,” he added. “He gave me a lot of updates while I was finishing medical school and my residency.”
Dr. Phui’s wife Lauren and three children ages eight, six, and three-months will be moving to King City sometime this summer.
“I don’t know how often it happens that a doctor comes back to where he had his summer preceptor program. It is the first time for Mee Memorial. But we are really glad Dr. Phui is here,” added Dr. Greenberg.