2014: Year of the Family Physician (Part XIV)

In Part XII of this series, I reported that the City of Sacramento had passed a resolution recognizing 2014 as the Year of the Family Physician.  I encouraged other family physicians via Facebook, Twitter, and this blog to make a similar request before their city councils.  However, there is no substitution for delivering the message face to face.  At the recent AAFP National Conference, I literally reached across the convention hall aisle to speak with Dr. Beth Varadian, a second year resident from the Natividad family medicine residency in Salinas; our recruitment booths were opposite each other.  I presented her with a #2014yearfp bumper sticker and remarked how Salinas would be a natural fit for recognizing and advancing the movement.  Salinas’ most famous native son John Steinbeck captured the hearts and souls of the working class in California in his literary works.  He wrote poignantly of the immigrants and farm workers who contributed to the fabric of Salinas.  #2014yearfp is about connecting with the masses.  Family medicine is blue collar medicine.  It is about how we are empowered by the patients we serve, and, through that empowerment, how we can provide them with a higher level of care.  Dr. Varadian commented that the patients in her region readily conceptualize and identify family physicians as their primary care physicians.  Her patients see no division with respect to obstetrics, pediatrics, adult medicine, or geriatrics.  They see family physicians as the overarching source of their health care.  Dr. Varadian promised to rally her fellow residents and present themselves as the living embodiment of #2014yearfp to their city council.

The second person interested in furthering the outreach of #2014yearfp is Lori Goyne, Board Member of the Shasta Community Health Center in Redding.  She contacted me asking for some bumper stickers and was receptive of my suggestion to ask the Redding City Council to recognize #2014yearfp.  The SCHC is a FQHC which focuses on serving the homeless population in Shasta County.  She has already contacted a friend who sits on the council and is interesting in recruiting as many family physicians and personnel who work in family medicine clinics to aid the cause.  She understands that #2014yearfp is not the exclusive domain of the few, but the fertile ground of the many.  She applauds that family physicians provide a medical home to those without any other kind.  And, she has come forward to claim her stake in prioritizing increasing the number of family physicians to meet the needs of her community.  This is a breakthrough development.  We now have non-physicians partners speaking up and out on our behalf.

And, these sites demonstrate the wide reach of family physicians in rural areas and of working class individuals.  We go where we are needed, not where it is convenient.  We serve people, not locations.  We see in full view that the enlistment of the working class will help propel us forward to a platinum age of family medicine.  What does a city council resolution mean?  It means that our communities at large are seeing the challenges to our healthcare delivery system and sees us as neighbors who will roll up their sleeves to get the job done.

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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