“Advocating for our Members and our Patients”
Family Medicine arose, at least in part, as a “counterculture movement” in the 1960’s, in response to over-specialization, increasing fragmentation of care, increasing costs and disenfranchisement of rural and urban undeserved populations. As a result, family physicians have a long tradition of activism and speaking up for our patients, our communities and our profession. The founders of Family Medicine recognized that it is not enough to be knowledgeable medical providers but that we must work vigilantly to protect and promote policies and practices that contribute to the health of our patients and communities. Quoting Gayle Stephens, MD, “Medicine is always the child of its time and cannot escape being influenced and shaped by contemporary ideas and social trends”. Today, dozens of your colleagues are devoted to ensuring that our voices, and those of our patients, are represented from the local to the national level, whether it is representing family docs on hospital and health system committees, testifying or attending Doctor Day at the state legislature, serving on the WAFP Legislative Committee, or holding WAFP or AAFP office.
Next week, WAFP members will join with hundreds of colleagues from across the US to attend the AAFP Congress of Delegates, where the policies of the AAFP will be debated and implemented. As medicine has become increasingly complex, so have the discussions and policies. Family doctors share many common traits and values, but we are a diverse group and represent a wide array of beliefs and experiences that color our lives and our patient care.
The issues are often complicated and, inevitably, we will have differences in the preferences, beliefs and viewpoints of our members. There is no “one size fits all” when representing you, our members. However, whether it be issues relating to health care coverage and delivery, physician workforce and payment, or issues relating to public health and medical practice, the guiding principles for your WAFP and AAFP leadership is to advocate for policies that maximize the freedom of family physicians to practice and care for their patients. We believe that family doctors are the subject matter experts who can guide the US healthcare system to be more effective, cost-effective, and patient-centered.
Many thanks to our members who devote untold hours to reviewing and distilling the complex array of legislative and policy issues facing family doctors that affect our patients and our practices. Particular thanks this month to our Congress of Delegates contingent for their time and dedication to the WAFP membership: AAFP Delegates and Alternate Delegates: Andrea Gavin, MD, Suzanne Gehl, MD and Robert Sedlacek, MD Michael Mazzone, MD; AAFP Speaker Alan Schwarzstein, MD; WAFP leadership Lisa Dodson, MD and Sabina Singh, MD, and WAFP staff Larry Pheifer and Brandon Wimmer.
Stay tuned in a few weeks for highlights from the AAFP Congress of Delegates in Philadelphia, PA.
Lisa Dodson, MD