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Home / Education/ Information for Family Medicine Residents/ Residents Committee Feature Series - Dr Mercedes Rodriguez

Residents Committee Feature Series

Dr. Mercedes Rodriguez is a family physician practicing in Orangeville, Ont. She sat down with our residents committee to discuss what inspired her to pursue family medicine, her clinical practice experiences and leadership work, and her advice for residents.

Q&A with Dr. Mercedes Rodriguez

Why did you choose family medicine?

I love stories. Each encounter with a patient from my practice is part of a story and I enjoy putting those pieces together to realize the bigger picture. You start to better understand your patients when you know where they come from and where they want to go. Also, once you know their individual stories, it’s easier to understand families as a whole. You are then more equipped to guide your patients and help them along during their health journey, according to their values and goals. It’s an honour to be there on the best to the worst days in someone’s life and to comfort always.

What does a typical week of clinical duties involve?

I have a varied practice. I am at my clinic four days a week doing regular office visits, episodic care, mental health counselling and the occasional office procedure. I also care for patients on the Chronic Complex Care (CCC)/Palliative Care wing at my local hospital and do courtesy visits to my own patients if they’re admitted. Home visits are another aspect that I mostly offer to palliative patients and occasionally for patients who are house-bound. Once a month, I spend the weekend on call for CCC/Palliative in-patients and for Surgical Assist on-call.

"As a patient advocate, I consider it my responsibility to be an active participant in the decision-making processes of the health care system."

I also spend a considerable amount of time in non-clinical duties as Chief of the Department of Family Practice in our local hospital, Lead Physician in our clinic, Board Member for our FHT and other smaller roles in different groups including the OCFP Early Years in Practice Committee. Although these are non-clinical duties, I see them as part of my practice. Patient care is directly and significantly affected by the decisions made at these different meeting tables. As a patient advocate, I consider it my responsibility to be an active participant in the decision-making processes of the health care system.

Why did you choose your particular practice location and type of clinical duties?

From a professional point of view, Orangeville is the best of both worlds. I trained in Rural Family Medicine and Orangeville is small enough that I can have a comprehensive practice, but also large enough that I have the luxury of readily-available specialists to discuss challenging cases and share their care.

What has been your professional journey from residency to now? Did you do any locums or enhanced skills/additional training?

After my residency ended two and a half years ago, I took over a practice. I was ready to settle right away and am enjoying being able to say that I am finally getting to know my practice. My training hasn't stopped, it’s ongoing. My peers are my first line of enhanced knowledge as well as our local specialists and CMEs. I think it’s true that good physicians are life-long learners. Medicine is an ever-changing body of knowledge and that means there’s always something new to learn. Boredom is not on the horizon!

"My training hasn't stopped, it’s ongoing. My peers are my first line of enhanced knowledge as well as our local specialists and CMEs. I think it’s true that good physicians are life-long learners."

What is the most challenging aspect of your practice?

For me, the part of my practice that I least enjoyed is the paperwork. It can be very time consuming and I am always trying to come up with solutions for that. I have found that preparing my patient encounters for the day early in the morning has made a significant difference. I also have one day that I’m not in the office and can catch up on paperwork that day.

What is your work-life balance like, and how do you achieve it?

I do my best to have my weekends open to enjoy with family (except for when I’m on-call once a month). I also make it a priority to be there for my son and husband’s important dates, planning in advance to be covered by my peers - having a good group of colleagues is of the utmost value. Cooking is my meditation and I spend a good amount of time doing this every week as it is quite relaxing for me. Vacation time is also important. I find that about every 3-4 months I need a few days to recharge and that seems to work well.

Do you have any advice for residents finishing their training?

The best time to have comprehensive family practice is right after residency. I tell residents that they should practice all the aspects they want to explore right away. For example, if you want to do ER and OB, you should do it from the start because after being out of residency, the skills and confidence decreases if there’s no ongoing practice.

It’s also important to be aware that leaderships responsibilities might land on your plate before expected; it comes with the role. Be open to them and engage in those opportunities that are meaningful to you.

About the Story Series

Read our interviews with family physicians in their earlier years of practice as they discuss why they chose the profession, a typical week in practice, advice for new grads, and more.

Do you know of resources, events and opportunities of interest to family docs?

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