Family medicine becomes family tradition

For the first time in the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program’s history, a...
For the first time in the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program’s history, a son of an alumnus followed in his father’s footsteps. Dr. Kevin Piggott, father, and Dr. Michael Piggott, son, pictured at Michigan State University and at UP Health System-Marquette. (Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program photos) (WLUC)
Published: Sep. 24, 2019 at 11:24 AM EDT
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“Like father like son,” is a common description we have heard many times – but for the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program, this phrase is verbatim. For the first time in the program’s history, a child of an alumnus will follow his father’s footsteps. Michael Piggott, DO, began his first year of residency, following his father’s footsteps, Kevin Piggott, MD, MPH, who completed the program thirty years ago.

For the Piggott family this represents the third generation of physicians. Kevin’s father (Michael’s grandfather) was also a physician. The senior Piggott graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1956 and held an academic appointment at Wayne State University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. Even with this tradition of physicians, Michael did not feel pressured to pursue medicine.

“I don’t ever recall a time where our father encouraged us to go into medicine,” said Michael, “likely because he wanted us to find our own paths.”

Michael explained that while his father’s influence extended far beyond the field of medicine, becoming a physician was the only career he ever considered seriously.

“Although I allowed myself to explore other subjects and I was able to develop many interests, it seemed that those topics always fell into the category of a hobby and not a profession,” he said.

While Michael was indirectly inspired to follow his father’s footsteps through example and actions, his own experiences helped solidify his direction.

“What cemented my goal to becoming a physician was when I was finally able to experience the field of medicine,” he said, “first in high school as I took a ‘health occupations’ course, and then through volunteer work in hospitals, interactions with patients and experiences with many skilled hospitalists during my undergraduate studies.”

When Kevin entered medical school, his path was undecided. The broadness of knowledge needed to practice family medicine was vast -- his first thoughts were to pursue internal medicine with an intent to specialize. But an experience changed his mind.

“In my third year I did a family medicine rotation with Dr. Jerry Luoma in Calumet,” said Kevin, “I saw full spectrum family medicine being practiced competently and compassionately. It changed the trajectory of my career.”

After Kevin did an elective in family medicine at the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program early in his fourth year, he knew that family medicine was for him.

Michael, however, knew immediately that family medicine was the specialty for him. The idea of forming special one-on-one relationships with patients to create an individual approach to their healthcare was appealing.

“Being able to sit down with people and listen to their stories, be a part of their team to promote health, and being able to help make a difference, were the biggest draws to medicine for me,” he said.

Over the years, Dr. Kevin Piggott’s roles in healthcare included being a family physician, an assistant director for the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program, medical director at the county health department, a hospital administrator and a preceptor for both medical students and resident physicians. He earned his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1986 and held an academic appointment at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. He completed a fellowship at the University of Michigan and earned a master’s degree in public health in 2009. Dr. Kevin Piggott retired from practice in 2016 leaving a fulfilled career.

“I most enjoyed my practice in Trenary, it was a small practice in which I could provide a more personalized form of medical care,” he said. “Although I did not live in the community, I very much felt that I was an integral part of the community and in the lives of the people that entrusted their care to me. I truly felt it was a privilege to be there, it was very fulfilling.”

Michael earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, DO, degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2019. He earned his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University. The legacy of pursuing the same career at the same place as his father has had an impact.

Michael explained:

Following in my father’s footsteps and earning a spot in Marquette’s Family Medicine Residency is a great milestone in my life for many reasons. Professionally, I get to work with many of the same talented colleagues and friends he got to work with, I get to see many of the same patients that he saw, and in time it’ll be my goal to be able to provide the same level of care. Personally, I get to carry on the legacy that started when my grandfather first became a physician. The generations of family members before me have gifted me with the responsibility and drive to do my best for others, and it will be my privilege to work hard so that those principles continue-on to the generations after me.

The residency program has embraced this first experience. The strength of the program is evident when a child of an alumnus follows the same path into the Marquette Family Medicine Residency Program. It’s rewarding to see the program’s roots continue to spread the family tree keeps growing. Faculty and staff at the program look forward for the next child/parent path to reveal itself. Will we see another ‘father/son’ footprint? Or will it be ‘mother/daughter’? Only time will tell. But should the trend continue, it is very fitting to think that continuity of care and values spanning generations of providers has taken root.

The MSU College of Human Medicine Upper Peninsula Region Campus works in conjunction with the UP Health System-Marquette to coordinate the training of family medicine residents and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine medical students. Since its inception in 1974, 298 medical students and 204 resident physicians have graduated from the two programs. Currently, approximately 30 percent of the students who graduated from MSU College of Human Medicine UP Campus and 39 percent of family medicine resident graduates are practicing across the Upper Peninsula Region.