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Table 1 Main themes and illustrative quotes

From: A global picture of family medicine: the view from a WONCA Storybooth

Themes Subthemes Illustrative quotes
Key attributes of Family Medicine
  Holistic care 1. “When I graduated I wished to find a medical specialty that had a holistic view, that saw a person in his community, that contemplated his spirituality, his values, his beliefs, his principles; and moreover, that worked with a big implication in social issues […] it was where I chose Family Medicine” Argentina 5
2. “This is our trade: family medicine specialists look at people globally and they address their psychosocial problems. This is a trait that is unique to us as family physicians.” Lebanon 1
3. “I realized that what interested me the most was the patient in his entirety; it was not only an organ, it was not a system, it was really about who is in front of me, how the meeting between us will bring benefit to him.” Switzerland 1
Prevention and health promotion 4. “Family medicine is very important, because not only does it focus on the illness but also on the prevention, and once you get to prevent we are avoiding that the whole family, patients, and the community lose in health and economy.” Ecuador 3
5. “They are interested in continuing to work with us, not only on matters of health but also health promotion, so we visit them even when they’re not ill and we encourage them to come and see us […] So, we have seen significant growth in matters of raising up health conscience within the community we work with” Kenya 1
Comprehensive care 6. “What moved me to family medicine is first of all the breadth of practice. It is very diverse, we see all sorts of patients. […] I was equally involved in the less favoured side than the rich side of the city.” Canada 6
7. “I love to be a family physician because you are able to take care of the whole family” Malaysia 1
Universal care 8. “I think that medicine should be dedicated to care for everyone’s health, especially for poor and needy people. Medicine shouldn’t be a business. That is why I chose Family Medicine as a profession” Argentina 4
9. “I am a family doctor because I found family medicine a response to reduce the inequity that exists among health care users.” Ecuador 1
Patient-centred and people oriented 10. “I […] meet family doctors from around the world and what strikes me is how we all share the same devotion to the people we care for and to the communities in which they are.” Canada 8
Bridging the family and community 11. “You’re part of the community; you understand them, the context, the milieu, the whole ecology in which they live. You think about your patients all the time. […] We’re connected to our communities, connected to the people we work with, particularly in rural sites” Australia 4
12. “I have been working in the same street with the same families for 42 years” Belgium 2
13. “We can see the patient […] in the community where they live and I realized that it makes a huge difference because we can, by treating one patient, treat the whole family and reach in fact the whole community.” Portugal 2
Proximity 14. “It [Family Medicine] affords primary care that is community centred; so for the most part, people who have a family doctor won’t have to access specialists, or hospital-based care and they can stay closer to their home and their environment.” Canada 5
15. “Having these units of primary care gives better attention to people, allows physician to interact with the community, and makes medicine more accessible” Paraguay 1
Rural health 16. “I believe that family physicians will benefit most people in my country […] especially in rural areas, so they can live better and cure their diseases.” Indonesia 1
17. “I chose family medicine because at the time I took the training as a family physician it was not easy for people to provide full services at a very rural level, and family medicine turned out to be that specialty that could allow me at that time and up till now to provide broad based medical care, especially to people in rural areas where I come from.” Nigeria 2
Continuity of care 18. “One of Family Medicine’s attributes is continuity of care, that is the most satisfying thing to the patient and brings more confidence to the doctors to deliver better care.” Brazil 5
19. “I think what drew me to Family Medicine the most was really the continuity of care that we offer to our patients.” Jamaica 1
Drawn into Family Medicine 20. “When I saw what he was doing, I was impressed. So I asked him ‘how can you do everything?’ and he told me ‘yeah, I am trained to do everything’. So I said, ‘what were you trained in?’ He said ‘I trained in Masters in Medicine, in Community Practice.’ At the time, because it had just been changed from Community Practice to Family Medicine. Then I said, ‘I think this is what I should do’” Uganda 1
21. “Before I worked as a emergency doctor, but I changed it [to family medicine]. In Japan, elderly people was 25% […] so I thought it important for elderly people to manage complicated social, biomedical or psychological [issues]. They can’t be managed as emergency, so I chose it” Japan 3
Recognition 22. “My patients are sometimes surprised that all of the clinicians there are family practitioners, not specialists. They’re “just a GP”. And sometimes it’s hard for them to get their head around the fact that “just a GP” will be advocating for them, and who holds their lives in their hands, and their hearts in their hands.” Australia 1
23. “I had all sorts of prejudice with Family Medicine and I was always saying:
I would never do it in my life. I hate what they do, they are “only” generalists working in a “health centre”. But gradually I convinced myself otherwise, and gave Family Medicine a chance. When I got into the residency in Family Medicine I realized how wrong I was” Brazil 12
Core FM values Shared traits
  Enthusiasm 24. “So I saw skills, I saw attitude, I saw values, I saw passion, and I saw people being successful and happy at what they do” Nigeria 1
25. “We really are very unified, very enthusiastic and very motivated.” Canada 13
26. “Whatever be the place we work, the reality in which we are, we all share the love and passion to work for the community; and the desire to change things and to get better things in benefit of the persons who give trust to us.” Ecuador 5
Human encounters 27. “As family doctors, we have values ​​that are very dear to us. First, there is respect, there is competence, compassion, but also integrity and also team spirit.” Haiti 1
28. “I have human interests, so I am enjoying the stories I hear every day. It is an excellent job for the people who like people.” Netherland 1
29. “I chose Family Medicine because what drew me to medicine in the first place is really the human stories that populate our discipline.” Canada 9
Patient-provider relationship 30. “There’s more contact with the patient. They develop a long-lasting relationship, they say from the cradle to the rocker or from the womb to the tomb. And that’s the bedrock of family medicine.” Ghana 1
31. “I feel like I have enormous good relationships over my very kind and nice community. And in that way it has given me the meaning in my life.” Denmark 4
32. “The fact that I could develop a long-lasting relationship with my patients over the 30 years I was in practice (I saw children grow up, have their own children, and then bring their own children to me) gave me such a sense of being able to make a difference in the life of a family.” Jamaica 1
Enquiry 33. “You’re challenged by their medical needs; you’re challenged by having to utilize the knowledge that you have in order to meet those needs. But also by having to put those medical needs in the context of who that person is: their beliefs, the community in which they live, their income that they earn, and being able to do that and keep them well over long periods of time is what I think family practice is all about” Australia 3
34. “Life is awkward and messy, and wonderful and I think that’s what we share as family physicians: interest in the universe, curiosity, and willingness or hope to be able to assist or help and facilitate.” Denmark 1
Accountability 35. “We know that we’re responsible for the patient, we know that she/he’ll always come back to us. So, when Family Medicine comes to a place like this, in a poor community, with people with no access to health services, it makes a huge difference in their lives, in every family.” Brazil 11
Caring for vulnerable 36. “The reason why they choose Family Medicine [is] to help people even in low resource settings and the vulnerable population in their various communities.” Canada 2
37. “So that’s probably it: the patients, the poor, and the passion for them.” South Africa 1
Happiness and fun 38. “You need to have a sense of humour, you need to have fun. […] You can have fun in everything you do. So, a consultation, even the most difficult news can have a little bit of humour, a little bit of light-heartedness, a little bit of fun in it. Certainly you can enjoy yourself with your patients […] you find out an extraordinary amount of information.” Australia 4
Motivation 39. “If I had to do it all over, I would choose Family Medicine again as it has been rich and exciting experience for me.” Jamaica 1
40. “The reason why I wake every day in the morning and feel energetic and enthusiastic about going to my clinic is because it’s a very rewarding field. With each patient you get, you listen to a new story; you can never tire of what will be the next patients come complaining of.” Saudi Arabia 1
41. “You know you’re making a true change in people’s life, and that for sure changed my life.” Brazil 15
Shared traits of Family doctors
  Specialist of common issues 42. “After medical school I recognized that only family medicine would give me all of the skills that I will need to tackle most of the health problems in my community. And this includes communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases and mental health disorders and so on and so forth.” Nigeria 6
43. “They had family physicians doing all kinds of different things: serving the communities that they lived in, and I really liked the idea that they were doing what was needed in their community and I thought that this was the job for me.” US 2
Adaptability and versatility 44. “It encompasses everything I want to do as a doctor.” Namibia 1
45. “Family doctors have a range of skills. A lot of them provide obstetrical care; some of them provide acute care, for in-patients or for emergency rooms. A lot of them do surgical procedures, academic research, […]. These are the kinds of things that when you put it all together, it’s the big picture of what the society needs. […] I think of a segment of physicians that are really fulfilling the need of the community that they serve. And I think that is what Family Medicine does globally.” Canada 5
Advisor 46. “I think I share the interest in everyday life: how people live their lives, the sense of belonging in a community, this thing of being able to assist and facilitate people to live their lives, not to paternalize them but just to advise and hopefully be able to see them prosper and grow.” Denmark 1
Leader 47. “For the fact that we are more community centred and so we are able to be community leaders and […] being an advocate.” Ghana 1