Member of the Month
Robert Assibey, MD
Robert Assibey, MD is a graduate of Ross University School of Medicine and a second-year resident at the San Joaquin General Hospital Family Medicine Program. He is a member of the San Joaquin-Calaveras-Tuolumne chapter of CAFP and serves as Resident Co-Chair on the CAFP Board of Directors. “My best experience has been attending the CAFP Clinical Forum this past April. I was deeply moved and inspired by the work that my fellow family physicians have been doing. It gave me the motivation to be more involved and made me realize how much of a difference I could actually be making.”
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it?
I chose family medicine because of its versatility and the relationships I can build with my patients. My favorite aspect of it is the sense of trust I have with my patients, not only in the exam room, but in their communities.
Were you inspired by anyone to pursue family medicine?
Yes, my mother inspired me. She has been a registered nurse for many years and taught me to always show compassion for others, regardless of the situation. She has a habit of taking care of others before taking care of herself, and I wanted the ability to turn the tables and take care of her.
What is the most interesting/memorable experience you have had when dealing with a patient?
My most memorable experience is when I was on inpatient wards, we found out my patient had a ruptured AAA and needed emergency surgery. The patient and his family were distraught, and the patient pleaded with me, “I don’t want to die, doc,” after a vascular surgeon told him he had less than a 50 percent chance of surviving the procedure. The procedure was successful, and the patient told me afterwards, “I told you I wasn’t going to die, doc.”
What one word or phrase characterizes your style of family medicine?
Rapport, because without it, I do not believe I can effectively care for my patients.
What is the best experience you have had during your career as a family physician so far?
When I was on Labor & Delivery, I was pushing with a new mom all night long and the parents did not know whether they were having a boy or a girl. Throughout the delivery we talked about the possibility of either. After the delivery, the sheer joy the parents had when they saw their new child touched my heart in ways I cannot express in words.
It is important for me to be a member of CAFP and AAFP because:
I have the opportunity to be part of a community of leaders who have similar interests to mine, making effective change in the field of family medicine and medicine in general. It also provides me the platform to raise awareness of the great things that family medicine docs are accomplishing.
The most important resource I find CAFP offers me is:
A sense of family and community, with a platform for advocacy.
What has been your best experience as a CAFP member? Why?
My best experience has been attending the CAFP Clinical Forum this past April. I was deeply moved and inspired by the work that my fellow family physicians have been doing. It gave me the motivation to be more involved and made me realize how much of a difference I could actually be making.
How do you make a difference in family medicine and in your community?
By caring for the underserved populations and advocating for all patient populations. Also, through trying to find effective ways to break many of the barriers that social determinants of health have on my patients.
Tell us about a project you are involved in and why it is important to you:
I am currently working in a PDSA group with my residency program to increase the cancer screening rates of our clinic. This is important to me because part of why I became a family medicine physician was to reduce disease burden on patients, society and the economy.
What are good qualities a family physician should have?
Great work ethic, compassion, adaptability and resiliency.
Do you remember your personal statement for medical school? If so, would you like to share an excerpt?
“In addition to my applications for school, I am currently working with some colleagues to open up a free medical clinic in the inner city of Los Angeles. Health care is a serious issue in this country and a lot of people are without it. I was presented with an opportunity to change that, so I am taking it. If I can save a life or two, or extend someone’s life, then I know I have done something worthwhile in this lifetime. I know that this is where I am supposed to be, and I am not going to stop until I get there. With my hard work, determination, and support from my friends and family, I will become a doctor that can and will help many people. I am filled with excitement at the opportunity to enter a medical institution that will prepare me to become fully engaged in the medical profession and this world.”
– I am still working on accomplishing this goal.
What one sentence of advice would you give to medical students interested in family medicine?
With family medicine, you have the ability to not only make effective change in the lives of your patients, but in the medical profession as a whole.
How do you spend your free time?
Watching TV shows/movies on my couch.
If you weren’t a doctor what would you be doing with your career?
I would be involved with computers or the tech industry in some way, shape or form.
What would your best friend say about you?
I have the charisma and energy to talk to anyone. I could even hold a conversation with a wall if need be.
Tell us something fun/unusual about yourself.
I’m kind of royalty; my grandfather had 10 wives and 45 children.
Tell us briefly about your family:
I am the product of an immigrant family that left their lives in Ghana to start over in America in order for their children to have better lives. I am who I am today thanks to how I was raised by my parents. Both of my parents are nurses and definitely helped drive my passion for medicine. My siblings and I are very close, although we currently live in four different states.
Each month, CAFP highlights one outstanding California family physician member who lends their voice, time, talent and resources to strengthen the specialty of family medicine and his or her community. The Member of the Month interviews are conducted by CAFP staff. If you choose to share this article, feel free, but give appropriate source and author information. If you would like to share your story or know a family physician colleague who deserves to be recognized for his or her impact or leadership, contact us at (415) 345-8667 or email.