2014: Year of the Family Physician (Part XV)

What is #2014yearfp?

Larry Bauer, CEO of the Family Medicine Education Consortium has posed that question to me over the past few months.  Deftly, he noted that it had to be more than just a bumper sticker.  Why should the general public care about family physicians in the upcoming year?  I have proposed that #2014yearfp is a compass and a beacon to help us navigate through the uncharted territories of the Affordable Care Act.  However, does that answer have meaning, value, and relevance to our patients?  For the majority of them, I suspect not.

Since we prioritize patient-centeredness in our discipline, let us infuse that tenet into#2014yeafp.  We start by inviting our community to join us in a celebration.  We celebrate the beginning chapters and milestones of life.  We welcome the arrival of a child into the world.  We gush at a baby’s first words and steps.  We mark the passage of children into adulthood.  We bear joyful witness to the unions of matrimony.  We honor our elders as they retire from their vocation.  In some faiths, the end of life on earth and the ascension into a higher spiritual plane is celebrated.  Life is a series of celebrations.  As family physicians, we journey with our patients on many of them.  #2014yearfp is a tapestry of all that we hold dear and extend to others with open arms and hearts.  It is a bond of universal and unique experiences.

#2014yearfp is about drawing a breath and pausing to see what is right before us.  Take a moment and look at your mentors, colleagues, and charges and revel in the energy that sustains us as family physicians.  Look to your patients and cherish how their trust has given us direction and purpose in life.  Look towards the future and walk towards a better tomorrow.  And, this celebration is one of inclusion.  We invite all within our circles to expand and to enhance them.

I know it may be too early to start planning for New Year’s.  Still, I am inviting all to join me in a global celebration.  Round up your fellow family physicians and gather at a place that is the epicenter of your professional lives.  Light a candle at midnight New Year’s Eve to ring in not just a new year, but a new era.  As fireworks illuminate our dreams and horns, bells, and whistles serenade our hopes, stop and commemorate the moment that 30 million Americans are now eligible for health insurance.  In a blink of an eye and a beat of the heart, we will 30 million more narratives to hear, 30 million more needs to tend, and 30 million more opportunities to celebrate who we are as family physicians.

#2014yearfp is a gift.  It is a gift to all my colleagues who have made family medicine an institution of comprehensive compassion.  I urge you to pass along this gift to your patients and to your community and I hope the adage of it is better to give than to receive will ring true for you.

Author: Ronald Fong, MD, MPH

Dr. Fong's opinions are his own and do not represent UC Davis. He can be reached at ronald.fong@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

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