The Challenges & Rewards of Being a Family Doctor in Shanghai

By That's Shanghai, May 16, 2024

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In healthcare, family medicine plays a vital role in providing comprehensive care and fostering community well-being.

Ahead of World Family Doctor Day, we had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Peggy, Chair of Family Medicine at Shanghai United Family Hospital (Changning)


From her journey in Australia to her current role at United Family Healthcare Group in Shanghai, Dr. Peggy shared insights into the multifaceted role of family doctors and the profound impact they make in their communities.

How long have you been a family doctor, and what drew you to this profession?
I have over 30 years of experience as a Family Doctor. I am from Australia, and what drew me to this profession was its holistic approach and balanced time management.

Family medicine allows me to blend my passion for healthcare with my desire to positively impact the lives of individuals and families in our community.

I have always believed in the importance of community education and advocacy, which aligns perfectly with family medicine. Family medicine allows me to blend my passion for healthcare with my desire to positively impact the lives of individuals and families in our communities.

I would also like to use the Feng Shang Clinic a good example of the impact of the family medicine approach.

  • Family doctor as an advocate: Engaging in community education initiatives such as company communications and events like Women's Day (including parents and children).

  • Family doctor as an educator: Prioritizing effective communication with patients. Promoting health literacy. Bridging gaps between patients and specialists through tailored guidance, such as advising lifestyle changes for specific patient like marathon runners who smoke.

  • Family doctor as a gatekeeper: Championing the primary care model over specialist-centric approaches. At UFH, Family Medicine occupies a central position and effectively addresses around 80% of healthcare needs, including chronic diseases and primary care essentials.

  • Family doctor as a facilitator with specialists: Collaborating with specialists to ensure quality and time efficiency in patient care.

Can you share a patient story that has left a lasting impression on you?
Many years ago, I treated a three-year-old orphan boy. He was very sick during the first week with his adoptive American family. The parents took a photo of him and me.

When he turned 18 he returned to China for a discovery tour, getting to know his birth place.  He came to look for the doctor in his photo. It was an amazing and tearful reunion. I felt such profound privilege; a small effort from me would make such an impact on this young man’s life. 

This anecdote reminds me why I chose this vocation. When you choose to help others, you often receive more than you give. Patients have a way of touching your heart and making you feel like a saint in unexpected ways


Balancing the emotional demands of patient care with professional detachment can be chal-lenging. How do you manage this aspect of your practice?
When I put on the white coat, I maintain a professional approach, emphasizing continuous care and collaboration.

I never work alone; instead, I am part of a community of healthcare professionals. This collaborative approach strengthens our practice, as we regularly consult with one another to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.

Additionally, we leverage technology to its fullest extent, with access to the latest reports and have a full visibility of patient histories.

Our decision-making process is inclusive, with patient needs playing a central role: a shared decision making model. And collaboration with a supportive team and leveraging technology for comprehensive patient care helps maintain this balance.

Could you recount any particular challenge you are facing in your practice? How did you navigate it?
I want to advocate for Family Medicine (FM) more as a specialty. Everyone needs to have a  Family Doctor and a Family Dentist.

Community improvement initiatives are crucial for enhancing people health. Preventative care is just as important as treatment for a heart attack.

By collaborating closely with other specialists, we are able to develop a comprehensive care plan tailored to each patient's unique needs: preventative care for early disease screening, vaccination, lifestyle management

In addition, as a Family Doctor, it is essential to utilize a knowledge-based approach, in addition to our expertise, by using specialized apps and technology to guide decisions and ensure evidence-based practices.

This approach can significantly enhance medical care. I love to be smart and tech savvy.

I love working at UFH; it is an organization that values the best science can offer.  We are equipped with resources that connect us to the latest treatment guidelines and information systems.

This system allows us to provide the best international standard medical care.

You mentioned Feng Shang Clinic as a pioneering example of the family medicine approach earlier. What sets it apart from other healthcare facilities?
Established two decades ago within a vibrant community as part of Shanghai Racquet Club, Feng Shang Clinic has become synonymous with comprehensive, patient-centered care.

Capable of caring for three generations of a family, the practice boasts an international team hailing from countries like Australia, Belgium, USA, and more.

Training the next generation family doctor is something unique in UFH. We have a decade long program offering a three-year specialist Family Medicine training. In my department more than 50% doctors are graduates from this program. 

Our entire team is strong in evidence based medicine, and we have the same approach: a personalized primary care. 

Since then, the clinic has also expanded its services to include dental, dermatology, mental health, traditional Chinese medicine, and more. It has also become part of a larger hospital network with the capabilities and expertise to handle emergencies.

Dr. Peggy's journey exemplifies the profound impact that family doctors have on the well-being of their communities. Through her unwavering dedication and compassionate approach to patient care, she continues to shape the future of healthcare, one patient at a time.

Scan more information or an appointment, please scan the QR code:


Shanghai United Family Healthcare Family Medicine Physicians



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