Member of the Month: Janet Hurley, MD
TAFP officer sees importance of caring for entire community
TAFP Vice President Janet Hurley, MD, practices in a small East Texas town, Whitehouse, in a multispecialty medical group within the Trinity Clinic. As a child she was interested in biology, leading her to medical school. A preceptorship with a family doc in another small Texas town led her to choose family medicine.
Hurley’s clinically integrated practice was recently highlighted in a TAFP Embracing Change video. Watch the video now at www.tafp.org/practice-resources/change/video-hurley.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone?
I was first inspired by Dr. Baker from the television show, Little House on the Prairie. I had a natural love for biology as a child. As I entered medical school I had a strong desire to be a family physician, and this was reinforced when I did a preceptorship with Dr. C. H. Prihoda in Navasota, Texas, between my first and second years of medical school. Despite the desire of my medical school to graduate more primary care physicians, there was still a strong emphasis in my clinical years on encouraging students to specialize. My memories of Dr. Baker’s practice, physically confirmed in Dr. Prihoda’s every-day career, kept me grounded in my support of family medicine.
How would you define the mission of your practice?
I care about the welfare of my patients and my practice, but I also care deeply about meeting the health care needs of my community. I desire to provide high quality care, while also protecting my patient’s pocketbook. When the medical care for my patients gets complex, I embrace my role in helping them navigate our health care system, being sure they follow through on tests and procedures they need while steering them away from others that may be excessive. I serve on the Trinity Clinic Board of Directors, the Trinity Clinic Primary Care Leadership Team, and the Trinity Clinic Customer Service Committee to assist in driving positive changes within our health system to best benefit the needs of our community.
Why did you get involved in TAFP business, first on commissions, and now as an officer?
I attended my first TAFP meeting in the summer of 1997 at the end of my first year of medical school, and was inspired by other family physician leaders who volunteered their time in an organized way to attempt big changes for health care in Texas. Our Academy embraced me as both a student and resident, and provided ample leadership opportunities and training. Similarly, I have watched Academy leaders listen to and embrace our members from all parts of the state, many looking for advice and reassurance that they have TAFP advocates working on their behalf in the Texas Legislature, insurer boardrooms, state committees, the TMA, and multiple other venues. It is a distinct honor to serve as an officer of such an organization.
It is important for me to be a member of AAFP and TAFP because:
AAFP and TAFP are uniquely positioned to advocate specifically for family physicians, and provide relevant and substantive CME offerings most practical for my needs. I have seen "advocacy in action" by AAFP and TAFP leaders, and recognize the good work they do on our behalf. I strongly believe that our nation's primary care infrastructure has to be supported and endorsed by health care policy makers in order to create a sustainable health care delivery model for our nation. No entity is better positioned to be the national voice for family medicine and primary care than AAFP. And no entity has better knowledge of or advocacy muscle for primary care within Texas than TAFP.
What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?
Sadly, one of my former physician preceptors became ill with a chronic illness which led to severe financial loss and medical disability. He had practiced as a subspecialty internist in our community, and served as his own primary care physician as he self-referred to many specialists in our area to get assistance and treatment for his condition. I was humbled and honored when he sought my assistance to become his primary care physician. Even doctors need primary care physicians, and even smart patients need a primary care advocate to assist them with navigating the complex medical landscape. This subspecialty internist had the pick of many general internal medicine colleagues throughout East Texas, and he chose to see a family physician.
How can we attract more medical students to family medicine?
We can attract more medical students into family medicine by shouting out the truths about family medicine! Knowing my excitement about family medicine, my partner printed off a slogan that I taped on my door that says "family physician, because freakin’ awesome is not an official job title." Family medicine is freakin’ awesome! When one looks at the health care needs of our communities and the way our health delivery system needs to be restructured, there is no question that family physicians provide the most practically useful and clinically relevant services to the largest segment of our communities. While I deeply appreciate the role that pediatricians and general internists play as well, one cannot deny that community primary care medicine for all ages is the core business for no one but family physicians.
If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?
Despite my early love for biology, in my late teen years I thought I should be an accountant. While I am relieved to have remained true to my first passion, I also have an appreciation for the business side of medicine. If I could no longer practice clinical medicine, I would hope to stay involved in the business side of health care, supporting physician practices and advocating on behalf of our patients and the health care needs of our community.
How do you spend your free time?
I often teach our adult Sunday school class, participate in our church’s music ministry, and support my husband’s martial arts ministry. I stay busy with my children’s extracurricular programs including marching band, soccer, choir, and basketball. My favorite outdoor activities are hiking and swimming.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.