Thiri Bickel, MD
Please write a quick bio introducing yourself.
Born a Burmese citizen, but lived both in the U.K. and Malaysia as well, I happened to come to the U.S. after being accepted for refugee status after a disagreement between the militant regime and the ethics of my parents’ international company that they worked for. I then began my life in Maryland where I spent my high school, undergraduate, medical school, and graduate school years. I met my husband in Baltimore, Maryland and have an amazing son. I had the privilege of attending Johns Hopkins University of Public Health for a master’s degree after medical school and now look forward to graduating residency at Penn State Hershey Family and Community Medicine and plan to continue to thrive in the central Pennsylvania with my family after falling in love with the area.
When and how did you decide to practice medicine?
Thoughts of medicine began early with my mother providing insight into the world of medicine with her previous career in surgical and obstetric nursing. My passion for medicine was strengthened during my undergraduate years where I had the opportunity to volunteer with my local EMS. I was exposed to public health and global health with involvement in the American Red Cross Maryland Chapter. During high school, I had the privilege of witnessing my closest friend experience one of life’s harshest lessons, the sudden loss of her mother. Being exposed to her experiences of suffering and resilience, I was empowered to push onward with my pursuit of medicine and to this day, she continues to be my cornerstone and source of strength and reminder of why and how I began my career in medicine.
How did you come to choose family medicine as a specialty?
The choice of family medicine happened later in my medical school years with exposure to my rural rotation that happened to be with family medicine during my fourth year of medical school. I had the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of family medicine in a single month, everything from running the inpatient unit, delivering infants both vaginally and operatively, and having an incredible mix of patients during the outpatient hours. One day was never the same as the day prior and I realized that I could not imagine doing anything else.
is your favorite part about practicing family medicine?
favorite part of practicing family medicine is the variety and unpredictability
of my daily schedule. At one moment, I can be examining a newborn and
reassuring nervous and sleep-deprived brand new parents, and the next moment
discussing chronic conditions and lifestyle modifications to maximize a geriatric
[patient’s] quality of life. The next moment can be building rapport with a
disturbed youth struggling with the stress of high school and illicit drug
substances, and then onto the next. The variety of patient interactions, and
the ability to impact patients in all phases of their lives, is the most
appealing and rewarding aspect of family medicine.
is the biggest challenge facing family medicine today?
biggest challenge facing family medicine today is spreading out thin enough to
meet the needs of our population. The demand for family medicine practitioners
continue to grow and the demands on those family medicine practitioners already
in place, also continue to grow. Some of those increasing demands include
providing excellent quality care in the setting of the confines of limiting
factors including less face-to-face time with patients and more administrative
work, which unfortunately result in increased levels of burnout. The concept of
focusing and prioritizing revenue and finances instead of quality and
compassionate patient care also poses a demand on family medicine practitioners
that compete and opposes what family medicine residents are taught and should
encouragement would you give medical students to choose family medicine?
life in family medicine provides a career that takes full benefit of rapport
building with patients and can potentially impact patients during any and/or
all parts of their lives, extending from being born into the world to providing
comfort and help during end-of-life care and all aspects of life in between.
For those who enjoy a challenge and having a day that will never be the same as
the last, a career in family medicine is right for you.