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From primary care to Team USA

As a primary care physician, the daily grind can often feel like navigating through a thick fog of productivity metrics, patient volumes, and the relentless pressure of keeping a large health system afloat. Yet, amidst this fog, there are moments of clarity, instances where I rediscover the passion that led me to medicine in the first place. For me, that moment of clarity came through an unexpected avenue – volunteering with elite athletes and Team USA.

Stepping outside the confines of my primary care clinic, I embarked on a journey that would not only enrich my own life but also impact the lives of athletes at the highest level of competition. My journey took me to the Colorado Springs Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, where I immersed myself in the world of elite athletes. From providing medical coverage for USA Wrestling to supporting USA Cycling, I embraced the challenges and the camaraderie that came with being part of Team USA.

My recent experience at the Pan American Championships in Acapulco, Mexico, working alongside some of the country’s top wrestlers, exemplifies the transformative power of stepping outside my comfort zone. Despite the long hours and physically demanding nature of the work, I found myself invigorated by the sense of purpose and belonging that came with being part of a team dedicated to excellence.

My responsibilities in my role extended far beyond traditional medical care. Whether it was cleaning down the mats for the team to practice on or running ice and water for the athletes, I embraced every task with enthusiasm and dedication. Through these experiences, I discovered a profound sense of fulfillment that transcended the metrics of productivity and RVUs.

What I found in my volunteer work was more than just a temporary escape from the pressures of primary care; I found a renewed sense of purpose and joy in medicine. By stepping outside the confines of my clinic, I gained a broader perspective on the impact of health care beyond the walls of the hospital or office.

My journey reminds me that amidst the chaos of modern health care, there are opportunities to reconnect with the passion that initially drew me to medicine. Whether it’s through volunteer work, community outreach, or simply taking the time to connect with patients on a deeper level, finding joy in primary care is not just possible—it’s essential for my own well-being and the well-being of those I serve.

As I navigate the complexities of modern medicine, let us take inspiration from my journey and remember that true fulfillment lies not just in the number of patients seen or RVUs generated but in the moments of connection, purpose, and joy that remind us why we chose this noble profession in the first place.

Anthony Tam is a family physician.


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