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Can you go home again? How to practice medicine where you grew up

Setting up shop in your hometown can be rewarding and successful, if you set rules and learn to cope with awkward situations.

By Carolina Procter, AMNews staff. July 9, 2007.

Going home: the family connection

Returning home to practice is often even more of a family affair for physicians whose parents are already in medicine there. Some forge partnerships or join group practices with their parents; others find themselves treating their parents' patients.

It makes for some valuable and sometimes challenging experiences.

Anne Davis, MD, always planned to practice internal medicine in her hometown of Talladega, Ala., with her father. "I have a lot of respect for him and want to be as good a practitioner as him," Dr. Davis said. "We talk and we compare notes."

Working with her father -- they're in a group with five other physicians -- has provided her with a trusted mentor and role model. The experience has been positive, although, because they share patients, Dr. Davis sometimes has to deal with people who expect her to be exactly like her father.

"I get that all the time," she said. "Initially it was a little off-putting. Now that I'm three years into it, I've learned to say, 'That's fine, but this is how I'm going to do it.' "

Charles Crutchfield, MD, a dermatologist in Minneapolis, said his patient base is significantly bolstered by the fact that his father, an ob-gyn, has practiced in the Twin Cities for 38 years and that his mother used to be a family physician there. "There was solid name recognition," Dr. Crutchfield said. "Not a day goes by that I don't see at least five to 10 patients who have been touched by my parents' practice of medicine. Because my parents are both so well-known, I have a huge physician referral base." When his father sends him referrals for cosmetic dermatology, "he always tells them to tell me, 'Your father says I should get a discount,' " Dr. Crutchfield said. "Thank goodness most of the patients know my father has a good sense of humor and don't try to hold me to it."

On the flip side, his parents' place in the community also means more pressure for him.

"The bar has been raised very, very high for me," he said.


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