It is official. The Mayor and the City Council of Sacramento signed a resolution on May 28th recognizing 2014 as the Year of the Family Physician. Councilmember Darrell Fong [no relation] made the formal presentation during the Council’s June 11th meeting. I want to thank him and his District Director Noah Painter for their belief that family physicians are valued contributors to the health and well-being of Sacramento’s citizens. Previously, I had worked with Darrell and Noah when I was on the local Little League board. This prior relationship established a level of trust surrounding the proposal that it was meant to benefit all and not only family physicians. Trust and collaboration play to our strength as family physicians. We initiate and sustain relationships. We grow with people throughout their phases of life.
I believe family physicians can draw upon their personal strengths and reach out to elected officials and forge partnerships. #2014yearfp provides a platform for discussing the mutual challenges and concerns of local communities and how we will unite to ensure that our neighbors and loved ones will have access to health care. The ACA legislates insurance; we need to deliver access. The implementation of the ACA serves as a lens and a mirror for family physicians. How do we view the 30 million new patients eligible for health insurance? How do we see our role in addressing the anticipated shortage of primary care providers?
Priorities for elected officials include schools and land use. These are fertile opportunities for family physicians to demonstrate our skills as health designers and resource directors. We can engage children in growing their own food for school lunch menus. We can provide input as to street design to encourage transportation by foot or bicycle. We can sit on land use boards and promote city design as an efficient and cost-effective means to address obesity and air quality.
The ACA is coming, but we can meet it on our terms and seize the moment to practice full spectrum health that thrives outside of examination rooms, charting, and medications. Getting a city to pass a resolution recognizing 2014 as the Year of the Family Physician will get the conversation started. Once that is done, we need to make a statement. It is an annoyance when others limit us; it is a shame when we limit ourselves.
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.