In mid-February, I received an e-mail from Larry Bauer, CEO for the Family Medicine Education Consortium [FMEC], Inc. FMEC focuses on improving healthcare through the advocacy and advancement of family medicine. Their members stretch from Maine to Florida and include AAFP state chapters, hospitals, primary care associations, and family medicine residencies. He wanted to collaborate regarding #2014yearfp and to take mutual inventory of our resources and directions. The e-mail from Larry was encouraging for a multitude of reasons. My Don Quixote message in a bottle reached the shores of a kindred spirit. The FMEC is concentrated in the northeast, where there is a high density of people and media. He reached out to lend his support and to signal that there are other organizations and family physicians who believe it is incumbent on us to be agents for change. Often, when wandering in the desert or wilderness, one is unsure if one is approaching the promised land or destined to be a stranger in a strange land. A fellow traveler provides the bonds to transform a journey into a pilgrimage.
Larry shared an idea to promote conversations centering on family medicine. He attached a photo of Sallie Rixey, a physician board member for FMEC. In the picture, she is wearing a bright yellow button with the question “Who’s Your Doctor?” We have the bumper sticker; now, we complement it with a button. We will be printing up buttons with the invitation “Let’s talk family medicine.” The purpose of the button is to initiate conversations with people we encounter at the market or when walking our dog. We do not need to get up on the soapbox or lecture in front of PowerPoint slides. We need to stand together for a common cause and stand apart from the current state of healthcare in which people do not have a primary care physician.
We can provide answers to “Who’s Your Doctor” for our patients. As family physicians, we are the physicians who are visible, accessible and open to working together to improve healthcare delivery. We believe that one person without healthcare is one victim of injustice. We acknowledge and respect the limitations of medical science, but will not tolerate any shortages of kindness and compassion.
Next: Time Magazine.
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.