I went into medical school not entirely sure what specialty I wanted to go into, but family medicine was always in the back of my mind as an option. It wasn't until I went El Paso during my first year of medical school for a medical missions trip that I became truly drawn towards family medicine. Our team offered free health care and medications for patients without any health insurance. However, I realized that the time I had with each patient was just too short to establish any meaningful relationship. I knew from that trip that I wanted to go into a field where continuity of care was a cornerstone. I appreciated the fullness of this patient-doctor relationship during my family medicine preceptorship when I saw the warm interactions my preceptor had with his patients, some of whom he had been following for more than 20 years. He shared stories of his new grandchild with some. He performed sports physicals for kids that he had delivered. He even played tennis with one couple. From my point of view, his patients saw him as more than just their family doctor; they saw him almost like family.
I went on a two more missions trips in medical school, one to China and another to Jordan, where I worked with a team of family doctors at both locations. We tended to a large variety of patients, most of whom had never seen a doctor. Regardless of who walked through the door, the doctors that I worked with seemed well equipped to address any medical issue of any aged patient. I began to realize after those trips that the breadth of knowledge and skills that family medicine provided would be more useful for working abroad than the focused tools of a specialist. As one of the American physicians who I worked with stated, family medicine truly is the most "portable" specialty.