Member of the Month: Brittany Taute
TAFP Board student member hopes to practice in rural setting
Fourth-year medical student Brittany Taute had the perfect kind of childhood to succeed in rural medicine. Being from the outskirts of Amarillo, she was raised with horses and cattle, showing animals, farming land, and building fence.
“I learned early about responsibility and hard work and I believe it has served me well in my life so far and will continue to do so as I enter residency,” Taute says. Her gymnastics coaching job and experience earning her nursing assistant certification during high school both led her to medical school, with hopes of going into sports medicine for the Olympic gymnastics team. Her time at UTMB has changed her mind and she now hopes to go into rural medicine after residency. Taute is currently the chair of TAFP’s Section on Medical Students, allowing her to be a representative on the Board of Directors.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone?
I chose family medicine because I love relationships with people. In family medicine, we get to truly know our patients, their families, care for multiple generations, and we are able to care for them much better because we know what they are going through. My favorite aspect of family medicine is being able to “do life” with patients. Two weeks before medical school began I lost my brother in a fatal car accident. We were extremely close and I had a particularly difficult time with that loss. What I learned from it is that the most important thing in life is love and that we, as humans, need to take the time to invest in others. I think family physicians are the best equipped specialists to invest in patients because they get to see the whole picture and are the first stop when a patient needs help.
I also feel family medicine has the most flexibility, the most open doors, and when I think about a doctor, a family physician is who I imagine. When you go into family medicine, you can completely customize your practice. If you love delivering babies when you begin your practice, but then lose that interest, you don't have to go do another residency to change your career. If you had chosen OBGYN, it would be more difficult to change your career path without further training.
I had so many inspirational family medicine doctors in my path. My childhood physician, Dr. Jerry Kirkland, made such an impact on my dreams of what I wanted to be when I grow up. I remember one appointment when I was working on a friendship bracelet while we waited and he came in and took the time to talk to me about it like he had all the time in the world. He has true compassion for his patients and was an inspiration and role model for me. He now is the residency program director at Texas Tech in Amarillo.
Another inspiration was during my first week of medical school and I walked into my Practice of Medicine course with Dr. Hanan Hussein, a family physician at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. I literally knew nothing about how to be a doctor when I walked into that room and she taught us how to listen to the heart, how to examine the abdomen, how to obtain a history of present illness, and so much more. Dr. Hussein has infinite energy and keeps you laughing as long as you are with her. She made learning so much fun and I've latched onto her as my mentor during my four years at UTMB.
One more example is when I went to rural West Texas in the Big Bend region and followed Drs. James Luecke and Adrian Billings. I experienced what true rural, or frontier, medicine is and I loved it. The doctors out there have such a close relationship with their patients and it reaffirmed my desire to work in a rural setting in the future. We would drive hours each day to reach a different population and help them. They have such a commitment to their communities and it is incredible to see the generations and the connections in the small towns. Both of these doctors made such an impact on how I want to know my patients and be involved heavily in my community.
What are your plans post-residency, ideally?
I would like to do full scope family medicine in a rural setting. I want to work in a town that allows physicians to round on their own patients in the hospital. I feel that nobody knows the patients as well as their primary care doctor and when they are in their time of greatest need during an inpatient stay, who better to treat them than one who knows them so well?
What has your experience as a medical student member of TAFP been like?
I have had an amazing experience as a medical student member of TAFP! My first year attending TAFP’s C. Frank Webber and Interim Session in Austin, Dr. Janet Hurley gave a talk on “Busting Myths of Family Medicine” and I left there feeling ready to take on anyone who was going to put down family medicine or tell me I should choose a different field. This talk and being around all the incredible doctors involved in TAFP empower me to stand my ground and have something to say back to specialists who just don’t understand why I love family medicine so much.
TAFP invests so much money and time in the students who become involved. I have never felt so included and appreciated in any organization, and much to my surprise one that is comprised of such high-ranking individuals! Being involved in the Section on Medical Students and TAFP Board has allowed me to see what family medicine doctors are dealing with on a daily basis, what the Academy is lobbying for in the legislature, what changes are coming in the future, the challenges and victories for family medicine, and so much more. I was able to travel to beautiful places and meet family medicine doctors from all over the nation. I can’t thank the Academy, everyone on the Board, and all TAFP members enough for all of the opportunities and blessings I have received during my time as a student member. I have always felt like an expensive learning project; however, I look forward to being involved in TAFP in the future and not starting from scratch. Now that I know a few things, I can contribute much more and pay back the Academy for everything they have done for me.
Tell us something unrelated to medicine about you.
I have three dogs and they love to go to the beach. I don’t particularly love to run, but they get so very excited to run on the beach that it makes it a lot of fun. I also love doing woodworking. My dad and I made my bed frame and headboard, which looks like a barn door. I love crafts such as sewing, photography, scrapbooking, and I attempted to pick up knitting but have only completed one scarf, which took two years. My husband and I enjoy going to dinner with friends and country western dancing.
If you weren’t studying to be a physician right now, what would you be doing?
I suppose I would still be coaching gymnastics or would have used my business management undergraduate degree for something useful. I currently am working at UTMB in the federal work-study program in the human resources department. We are training the mid-level management at UTMB and I am also involved in an executive coaching project. I have really enjoyed getting back to my business roots and I could see myself doing something in business if medicine somehow was taken from me. Even better would be the option to incorporate the things I have picked up in this work-study position into my future path as a physician. I could do executive physician coaching, be involved on a business level in the Academy, or just run my own practice in a rural setting. I think it just creates more opportunities and open doors for my future.
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.