Sunday, October 22, 2017

My family and I have been living in Teaneck for over 10 years, but only lately have I finally had the opportunity to practice family medicine in my community.

My path to becoming a family physician started at the Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem. I was the first woman to be accepted to a general surgery residency in Hadassah, and I remember female medical students coming to congratulate me on that achievement. I was also offered a position at Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva, with one of my teachers who moved there from Hadassah, to start a new surgical department, and I decided to go there for residency. However, God had other plans. One night returning with my colleagues from a professional visit to one of the Kibbutzim in the Negev, our bus was involved in an accident. The period of rehabilitation gave me the opportunity to ask myself what kind of physician I really wanted to be. I was constantly drawn to the image of the old-time country physician who knew his patients and their families, came to their homes and treated complex cases, showing his wisdom and love for the people. Those physicians have not disappeared; my dream in going to medical school was to be a doctor like that.

My training in family medicine in Israel exposed me to a wide variety of treatments in primary care that I never learned in medical school. In addition to the traditional fields of Western medicine I completed a homeopathy course for physicians in London, and went to Japan to study Oriental (Chinese) herbal medicine and acupuncture. I also became acquainted with other alternative-medicine methods such as Alexander technique, Feldenkrais technique, osteopathy, chiropractic, Ayurveda and many others.

I worked for eight years as faculty in a residency program in New York and then in primary care practice in Connecticut and central New Jersey. This year I was fortunate to be offered a position with Holy Name Medical Partners. Finally, I am able to practice medicine in my own community.

As an Orthodox Jewish woman (we are members of Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck), I was impressed to find a local Catholic Hospital that has high-level specialists and a state-of-the-art facility, and is very eager to care for the local Jewish Community.

I work with the whole range of resources available to my patients. I collaborate with local rabbis, organizations, Yoatzot Halacha (I am happy to have already spoken to Yoatzot Shoshana Samuels and Nechama Price), therapists, other physicians, nutritionists and schools. There really is no end to the benefits of working with the community.

I would like to see my community engaged in healthy eating, exercise and other healthy behaviors and I will gladly help and participate in any initiative to which I can contribute my skills.

If you’re looking for a primary care physician who will take your whole self into account as she cares for you, and also knows when and whom to refer out to while continuously managing your case, a family physician is for you.

I look forward to treating you and your family.

By Naomi Smidt-Afek, MD, MHPE

 Naomi Smidt-Afek MD, MHPE, Family Medicine, is a member of Holy Name Medical Partners. She can be reached at 201-342-2771 or holynamemedicalpartners.org.