Members of the Month: Drs. John and Judith Egerton
Physician couple follows golden rule in practice
After meeting at The Welsh National School of Medicine in the United Kingdom in 1961, John and Judith Egerton married as medical students in 1964. John joined the Royal Air Force as a medical student, and after graduating and finishing a residency was stationed in Singapore until 1971. They felt “unsettled” after returning to the U.K., and decided to immigrate to America. In 1975, they moved with their four small children to Houston and established a joint practice in Friendswood in 1983.
Now active TAFP members, the Egertons retired in 2005 and currently reside in Austin, spending their days traveling around the world and enjoying time with their children and grandchildren.
Note: The Q&A is Judith answering for herself and on John’s behalf.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone?
Ultimately we became FPs because we bonded intimately with patients and we both wanted long-term relationships with families in our care. John had an internal medicine background, and I in community-based pediatrics, and also in women’s health. We had both always wanted to be family doctors since early childhood, in difficult times in post-war U.K.
Our family lived in Friendswood as it grew from a population of about 4,000 to one of about 50,000. Our four children attended preschool to college with our young patients, and to this day, most of them and their aging parents are still in frequent contact with us. They all are the thread of our lives.
During that time we shared our life’s work with many medical students from Baylor College of Medicine, UT, Houston, and UTMB in Galveston. Our Immediate Past President, Troy Fiesinger, was one of our favorites!
How would you define the mission of your practice?
In our practice our philosophy was to treat each patient as we would treat a member of our own family, or as we wish to be treated ourselves. We witnessed the National Health Service in the U.K. from its inception in 1948, until the present. It was a shaky start, and when we left in 1975, it was still not well run and very unsettled. Patients were not always contented, yet many received health care that they could never have hoped for previously. Now we mostly admire it. Our own parents received excellent NHS care during their failing years. But for all the pitfalls of socialized care, we feel, as doctors, that we should be ever mindful that the definition of civilization is our duty as human beings to care for the young, the aged, and the infirm.
We will never forget our Hippocratic Oath; FIRST DO NO HARM.
John and Judith Egerton’s 1964 nuptials.
How do you spend your free time?
We are now retired and still seem to have little spare time! We travel; we spend time with our four children and five grandchildren, who all live in Austin. John has published four novels and is working on another.
It is important for us to be members of AAFP and TAFP because:
Membership of the AAFP and TAFP gives us a feeling of belonging to a family. The CME it provides is a great bonus. And we love to act as Physicians of the Day at our beloved State Capitol when it is in session!
If you weren’t a physician, what would you be doing?
We would never rethink our decisions to become family doctors, nor to spend those many years in Texas!
What is the most interesting or memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?
Among many memorable experiences John remembers delivering a baby boy at midnight on Christmas Eve. It was a home delivery, in the vicarage next to the church. The father was taking the midnight mass and the church bells were ringing as if in celebration. Snow was just beginning to fall.
Among Judith’s many memories is that of a surprise visit from a young man, a lifelong patient, until he and his mother moved out of state when he was 16. He had severe muscular dystrophy, and at age 20 he weighed just 22 pounds. He was carried into my arms just as I was attempting to console the mother of a young woman patient. She had been the same age, and she aspired to study medicine, because she was so fascinated by what I did. But depression overcame her one lonely night, and she took her own life. I gently laid him in the arms of her devastated mother, and we three women wept together. I marveled at the love, the sadness, the joy, and the pathos of my career.
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 e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.