by Ronald L. Fong, MD, MPH
I have attached a photo of the bumper sticker we printed for #2014yearfp. Contact me and I will send you one. The sticker is designed for us to engage with others. Movement organizers speak of recruitment to advance the cause. I would rather focus on identification instead. When we identify with people, we seek to understand their background and aspirations. Recruitment marginalizes individuals to the next number or indistinguishable fodder. We want people to join us, not merely to follow us. Use the bumper sticker to introduce yourself as a family physician, a member of the community, a neighbor, someone who understands that access to health care weighs heavily on all our minds. And, introduce the value of including those outside of the medical profession to be part of the journey in discovering solutions for providing improved health care for our nation.
For a movement to gain traction, others must feel free and inspired to contribute. This sticker is merely one notion of energizing the country to recognize the widespread impact of family medicine in fostering social cohesion. Have fun and create your own mark or banner in nurturing #2014yearfp to fruition. We have approximately 10 months to mobilize and to direct attention to our cause. Beyond Klout scores, followers on Twitter, or friends/likes on Facebook, considers what your valence is. Harken back to general chemistry and see valence in the light of social interaction. An element’s valence number dictated the number and type of bonds it could form. Also, it helped shaped the element’s chemical identity; it determined its place in the periodic table.
As family physicians, we need to take stock of our identities and how we bond with others. We are versed in caring for patients and collaborating with colleagues. However, we must maximize our ability to share with others-share our worldview of health care, share the sadness of why medical students do not chose family medicine, share the joy of how we provide the most comprehensive and affordable care of any specialty, and share our concerns of our limited ability to alter this future’s trajectory of health care disparities if others do not bond with us. The Affordable Care Act is close to 2,500 pages. In most minds, that document is reduced to “What does this mean for me?” For family physicians, it presents an opportunity to transition from spending on health care to investing in caring.
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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 email@example.com.