Family Medicine Moments (formerly Thursday Morning Memo) is a weekly distribution list that shares stories from the Family Medicine and Community Health community at UMass Chan Medical School that includes Fitchburg, Barre, Worcester, Lawrence and also community docs, students, residents, scribes, and graduates of our program and school. Curated by Hugh Silk, MD and Linda Cragin, MS, it is a forum to share clinical success stories, dilemmas and interesting encounters. This site, established in October 2022, is a collection of Family Medicine Moments submissions. Submissions from 2014-2020 are currently available in a separate archive.

Authors of works posted in this archive agree to the terms of the eScholarship@UMassChan Non-Exclusive Deposit License. Original works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 (CC BY-NC) license, which permits re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and the material is not used for commercial purposes.


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Recently Published

  • An Oral Health Reflection

    Garcia, Grant (2023-10-26)
    Introduction: Every once in a while, I get to use my editorial license to choose topics that are near and dear to my heart. This week, I share with you a reflection from Grant Garcia, UMass Chan SOM '24 who recently did my oral health elective. During this elective, students are asked to think broader about what they are seeing about access, role models, and other observations of inequity. I think Grant has made some important comments that we all can learn from as we think about what our patients are experiencing in the dental and health settings as well as in society in general.
  • Treating Patients, not Diseases

    Singer, Robert E (2023-10-19)
    Introduction: I am pleased to again have Dr. Bob Singer reach out with his reflection. I love how far our FMM messages travel. Bob was a resident at UMass Family Practice Residency Program from 1978 to 1981 when the Family Health Center of Worcester was called the Family Health and Social Service Center. He then practiced in Everett for years and then moved to Maryland to do geriatric work before retiring. He wrote today's piece after reading the headline and article below. I think it is a nice follow up from last week's theme of relationship as medicine. I had a similar experience to Bob - his words really resonate with me. Researchers Find Evidence Of “Long Cold” Syndrome Following Infection With Variety Of Common Respiratory Viruses NBC News (10/6, Carroll) reported, “The coronavirus isn’t the only pathogen that can cause symptoms that last months, or even years, after an initial infection is overcome, a...study published Friday in The Lancet’s eClinicalMedicine suggests.” According to “an analysis of data from 10,171 U.K. adults, the researchers found evidence of a ‘long cold’ syndrome that can follow infection with a variety of common respiratory viruses, including common cold viruses and influenza.”
  • The Relationship is the Medicine

    Silk, Hugh (2023-10-12)
    Introduction: I am writing a short reflection below as a companion piece to last week's story by Merredith. It follows along the lines of sayings in our specialty, like - "Don't just do something, stand there." I created a whole lecture on the power of "Doing Nothing." We all know, it is not really nothing, it is a lot of something, just not things that can be billed for or objectively evaluated necessarily. But they can be powerful.
  • Getting Back in the Saddle

    Moreau, Merredith (2023-10-05)
    Introduction: This week I have a story from Merredith Moreau, a nurse practitioner who works with me at the Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program at the Family Health Center of Worcester. She told us this story at one of our staff meetings where we share successes to remind us all why we do this work. I also love this reflection as it is exactly what the Family Medicine Moments was intended for - to celebrate our little triumphs that we garner each day, each week, year by year, moment by moment. This is our antidote to burnout - this moment that Merredith has captured below is what helps us to thrive. Pure joy. Enjoy.
  • Diary of a Night Shift

    Paulson, Jake (2023-09-28)
    Introduction: This week I share with you a story from Jake Paulson, a former UMass Chan mentee of mine who is now a PGY2 in the internal medicine residency at UMass. He recently spent a week doing a writing elective with me. He wanted to share what it is like being up all night and dealing with such a wide range of experiences while sleep deprived and trying to must some self-care. I think he does it well.
  • In the Weeds

    Gussak, Lisa S. (2023-09-21)
    Introduction: This week we will go multimedia and use a photo from Lisa Gussak, faculty member in our department. Lisa carries her camera often so she can take the "opportunity to observe the natural world, to see things as they appear in the moment and to reflect, all of which inform the care I provide to patients and their families." I appreciate her work (previously published this summer on Pulse.) About the photo, she wrote: This image reminds me how medicine and clinical problem solving often directs our thinking deep into the weeds of a problem or a patient’s presentation. This naturally obscures the background and may at times limit our ability to see the entire picture and the whole person. I also loved a comment on the site about her photo: This is a fabulous photograph. I think Dr. Gussak’s vision, both aesthetically and medically, is impressive. I wish more clinicians had this type of awareness.
  • White Coat Ceremony

    Patel, Prem (2023-09-14)
    Introduction: Welcome - and Welcome back to Family Medicine Moments. During this academic year you will receive a medical humanities piece each week on Thursday morning (unless it is a vacation week). These pieces are created by YOU! This is your forum. I created this listserv format over a decade ago so that we could celebrate the work and teaching we do at UMass Chan. I invite students, residents, faculty, staff to share your musings, essays, stories, poems, haiku, 55 and 6-word stories, music, photos, artwork, or something completely different. I ask that you remove any personal health information (PHI). Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing. And now for week 1. This piece comes from a medical student who just arrived at UMass Chan! Prem Patel, Class of '27 shares with us a copy of the writing assignment for the White Coat Ceremony. Prem reflects on what the white coat represents and what it does not. I am reminded of an essay on the topic of "can medical students be taught compassion?". The white coat is a cloak that covers over the person who brings humanity to medical school in the first place. Let's all help Prem and the Class of '27 hang onto and foster that humanity. And be reminded of our own commitment to our helping profession as we see it through the eyes of a new member of our team.
  • It's a team effort

    Fournier, Phillip O. (2023-06-29)
    Introduction: Wanting to end the year on a high note - Phil Fournier to the rescue! Phil is a family doc in the Benedict Family Medicine practice and a Learning Communities Mentor (among other things) in the medical school. He often tells me how much he and sister enjoy the FMM. He has commented that he is not sure his writing is good enough to be posted. I beg to differ. Phil is another person in our department who takes the time to notice and reflect. That is all that is needed here - and that is a lot. I love what he has written because I agree - we need to take more time to do gratitude reflections, for ourselves, for our colleagues, and for those who we barely know who make our lives a little easier each and every day. Enjoy your summer - see you in September. Please read, write, paint, doodle, take photos, go to an outdoor play, watch a movie - outside, outside myself, there is a world (William Carlos Williams). And if you think of it - share some of these with us here at the FMM.
  • Grateful to Bear and Pass the Torch

    Ferguson, Warren J. (2023-06-22)
    Introduction: On Tuesday night we honoured Warren Ferguson at his retirement gathering for his decades of service to the school, our department, our community, his patients, correctional health and so much more. Along with being blessed with Warren’s mentorship, coaching, collegiality, leadership, and friendship over the past 3+ decades, we also had a chance to hear his musings during a speech he made at the retirement event. He has made some edits and includes them here so everyone on FMM can benefit from his experience, wisdom, and advice. Thanks again Warren.
  • Anarcha, no one knows your name

    Armstrong, Penny (2023-06-15)
    Introduction: Juneteenth is not just a historic event that we should just think about briefly each year. The tragedy of what Juneteenth represents happened over and over again in our sad past and continues today, daily. Let us pause to think about where medicine intersected with the abuse of the powerless. J Marion Sims, a South Carolinian gynecologist, used the bodies of enslaved black women for surgical experimentation with no regard to their humanity. In a joint statement from the Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies, they name racism and not races as a root cause of poor health outcomes. It also acknowledges J Marion Sims’ role in perpetuating racism and oppression in medicine. You can read more about what he did to three enslaved Black teenagers, Betsey, Lucy, and Anarcha, in the 1800s to advance science and his legacy here. Note there is also an exhibit at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research in Cambridge MA which runs until Oct. 31 entitled: “Call and Response - A Narrative of Reverence to Our Foremothers in Gynecology". Curator Dell Marie Hamilton says "she was determined to honor the trio and make connections to the experiences Black women continue to have with the medical community." A longtime friend of mine and author, Penny Armstrong CNM, wrote this piece years ago and because she reads the Family Medicine Moments weekly, offered to share it with us. She provided care in a fistula repair clinic years ago in Somaliland and was moved enough to write this. When she wrote it, only Anarcha was named, it was later that Lucy and Betsey were identified. I have no words to express what it represents. Just read it...please.
  • Beating the Odds

    Ferguson, Warren J. (2023-06-08)
    Introduction: This week we continue to celebrate the past writing of Warren Ferguson for the Thursday Morning Memo/Family Medicine Moments. Warren has long been an advocate for justice-involved individuals and correctional medicine. He reminds all of us that <95% of inmates in state prisons and ~100% of those in local jails will return to the community. We will be the ones to care for them. Correctional health becomes our primary care. We need to understand this issue as well as we understand Veterans health, LGBTQ+ health, and so many other unique aspects of care. This story is one of his success stories, yet a story of many hurdles and setbacks. This story is the story of many.
  • Caregiver Observations

    Ferguson, Warren J. (2023-06-01)
    Introduction: Over the next few weeks, I plan to honour Warren Ferguson, our former Senior Vice Chair of Community Health, who is retiring at the end of the month. He has written 26 pieces for Family Medicine Moments over our 15-year history. He has written about everything from deep patient connection to his own observations as a care giver and as a patient. This piece is the first one he wrote back in 2009. Below, I include the introduction from then.
  • Filling in the Cracks

    Sorial, Natalie (2023-05-25)
    Introduction: This week I share with you the writing of another medical student, Natalie Sorial, UMass Chan '24-25. This is another reflection from the prompt: Review your essay from your application to medical school, and as you reflect on it, also think of a time you felt valued by a clinical team you rotated with. Her mentor Lisa Gussak encouraged her to send it. I love how our students hold a mirror up to our health system. So too, this piece is a reminder about how humanism can wane if we are not careful.
  • Brief Reflections

    Anonymous (2023-05-18)
    Introduction: This week I share with you some brief writings from our recent spring department retreat. I was doing a workshop on how to use medical humanities in teaching and we did a practice example with participants. The prompt was: Write about a clinical encounter this past week using 6-word story or Haiku. Participants were also given the option to use a photograph that I projected as a prompt or to go rogue and write about whatever was on their mind. See the fun musings we came up with below. We decided that all of our writings would be anonymous. Enjoy.
  • Acts of Kindness

    Silk, Hugh (2023-05-11)
    Introduction: I am writing a quick piece this week on the heels of our Grand Rounds on Homeless Health. Perhaps this reflection will further deepen the lessons about caring for those living outside. I know I learn something new every day.
  • You Should Write a Book

    Ballard, Rebecca (2023-05-04)
    Introduction: This week I share with you a reflection from Rebecca Ballard (Lubelczyk) who is the National Medical Director for Utilization Review for Centurion (a Correctional Medicine organization). We worked together in the state correctional health system years ago. Her piece reminds us of the uniqueness of being a health provider behind the walls and she reports on two books that might be of interest to readers about this topic.
  • Medical Student Reflection on Their Role

    Dong, May (2023-04-27)
    Introduction: This week I am sharing a reflection from a student that I am fortunate enough to mentor, May Dong UMass Chan '24. The prompt for the reflection was: After reading your admission essay, the professed values in the Class Oath, and considering your time in medical school so far, write about how the learning environment in which you work has influenced the kind of physician you are becoming, and whether that influence is positive, negative, or mixed. May's essay captures the power of what students can offer patients during their care. However, it is more than that. It is a reminder to all of us - just to listen and be there and see people in their most vulnerable moments calling out for our help. Not to judge; maybe to recall our own most vulnerable moments, and then meet people where they are. Thanks May for the reminder.
  • ER

    Brodski-Quigley, Katy (2023-04-20)
    Introduction: We forgot to share one of the Haikus sent to us during our call for Haikus (by the way - you can send haikus year-round!). Katy Brodski-Quigley, who trained at Barre Family Health Center, and now works at AFC Urgent Care in Waltham, MA shares this short message below. While there are only 17 syllables, the message of reassuring patients is an important one. Enjoy.
  • Balance in the In-Between

    Adelstein, Pamela (2023-04-13)
    Introduction: This week we hear from our most avid writer - Pam Adelstein, former resident of Family Health Center of Worcester, and now Medical Director at Fenway Health. She writes regularly for Pulse. Today's piece was previously published there. It takes on the notion of transitions since she has recently experienced a big one. How does one embrace transitions - whether it is from one job to another, or simply from one exam room to another or just getting from work to home. When I graduated from University, the minister at our graduation week ceremony pleaded with us to focus on transitions - that is where the good stuff will happen. Let's see what Pam has to add.
  • Unmasked

    Chang, Chris (2023-04-06)
    Introduction: This week I share with you a post-pandemic reflection from Chris Chang, former Barre Family Health Center resident, who is now at the Austin Regional Clinic in Austin, Texas. He has written several times before for FMM. The reflection below explores how we return to "normal" after a tumultuous three years. Definitely, not easy. Chris wrote this to me: “After nearly exactly three years, our clinic today moved to optional masking for staff. It was a strange day filled with mixed emotions for me. I'm still working on wrapping my brain around it, and this is part of that process. It is a bookend to the poem "Heroics" that I wrote and sent in near the beginning of the pandemic. Many thanks for keeping the fire burning.”

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