by Ronald L. Fong, MD, MPH
In colonial times, the local tavern served as a gathering place for the community to discuss politics. Some taverns functioned as makeshift post offices or local government offices. The modern day descendent of the tavern is the coffee shop. Coffee shops have captured the third space appeal, where people bond outside of work and home. To ingratiate themselves with their service community, coffee shops often sponsor civic forums, such as hosting local musicians and poets on open mike nights.
To garner support for #2014yearfp among non-physicians, I have turned to this resource that has woven itself into the community’s fiber. I have contacted local, independently-owned coffee shops to inquire as to their interest in hosting town hall hot spots discussing the Affordable Care Act [ACA]. The near complete implementation of the ACA in 2014 has many people wondering “How does this affect me?” This is a prime opportunity for family physicians to seize the moment, and, in turn, seize the year. Carpe annum! We can lead discussions to alleviate fears and to combat misinformation. We can demonstrate our commitment to all patients, not just the ones on our panels.
After initial reviews of the ACA, we can highlight the projected access shortage. The increased access to health care is accompanied by the shortage of primary care physicians. Clearly, the current primary care workforce seeing more patients is not a viable solution. We can redefine family physicians as talented artists and not as health care cogs, for we will have to create new delivery avenues. We can cite that populations with higher densities of primary care physicians have better outcomes at lower costs. We can point to the financial constraints that discourage medical students from choosing family medicine. Participate and contribute as a citizen, not an expert. Show we are in this together and health care is not an issue that is the exclusive domain of physicians. Inform the audience that they have the power to educate their elected officials on proposals such as no interest loans to incentivize medical students to choose family medicine.
Now, how can we augment this town hall into a town hall hot spot? First, promote the meeting through your social media accounts. Tweet during the event. Designate a colleague to record portions of the meeting or conduct video interviews. Capture the energy that will fill the room and channel it to recruit others to make 2014 the Year of the Family Physician. Blog prior to and after the event. Turn the event into a celebration.
Next: the bumper sticker.
Dr. Fong is director of the UC Davis Family Medicine Residency Network. His opinions are his own and do not represent UC Davis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.