Careers

President's Message

January 16, 2023


Rodney Erickson, MD

For the past year it has been my privilege and honor to serve as the president of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians. It has been a year of transition. After two years of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we’ve started focusing on where we go next; as a specialty, as a profession, a health care enterprise, and as a society.

I’m excited about the future and the important role family medicine must play if we are to successfully navigate the rough waters ahead. The Academy is aware of the challenges including: an aging population, physician disengagement, a mental health crisis, staff shortages, and a value disconnect between payers and providers. *

The academy is proposing a strategic plan with four areas of focus over the next three years.

·       Promote healthy physician, healthy practice, healthy patients.

·       Nurture and develop family medicine leaders.

·       Grow and maintain a family medicine workforce.

·       Promote family medicine advocacy.

Each area of focus has several goals, however, there are some general principles within each area. To promote health among physicians, practices, and patients require we provide environments that are supportive, inclusive, and sensitive to individual needs. Collaborating with members as well as those who administer and pay for health care will be essential if we are to move forward.

To nurture and develop family medicine leaders will also demand an intentional focus. Family physicians are and must remain leaders with their practices, systems, communities, and society. We need to be mentors and supporters for our colleagues at any stage in their careers, encouraging them to become leaders. I have found over my many years of practice it pays to reach out. Family physicians tend to be humble as well as overworked. They need to be encouraged to accept leadership roles. However, the benefits of helping others become leaders is rewarding both personally and to those we serve.

Growing and maintaining a family medicine workforce has many facets. At the state level, funding is the cornerstone, but to society, the payoffs are unquestionable. Educating and working with our legislative representatives in important. Within the medical educational system, we often task our colleagues in education to fight the battle of priorities. This is a tough fight when the payoff for proceduralists is to the system and for primary care to society. We must all work together educating our ultimate payers. And again, the role of mentoring and serving as positive role models cannot be understated.

Family medicine advocacy takes on many meanings, within hospitals, within systems, with insurers, and especially at the state level. While all the above items require advocacy to succeed, an ongoing problem we face, and have faced since our inception as a specialty is “practice scope creep”. Other specialists are trying to limit our scope of practice, not based on abilities, training, or objective data, but to protect turf. Other credentialled clinicians are trying to gain more independence, migrating from the team model. I find the former ironic, as often when I’ve been on call requesting a transfer; I get much smarter between 10 pm and 6 am, encouraged to “handle it yourself”. Satire aside, I’m extremely grateful for the excellent support and guidance I’ve been provided by colleagues over the phone, care they provide without compensation, and often limited recognition by patients. Through these collaborative efforts we’ve saved many lives over my years of practice. To the latter, migrating from the collaborative model,the loss of efficiency and additional costs incurred threaten to weaken rather than strengthen the care we provide, frightening.

 

There is no “new normal”, as nothing we are heading towards is “normal”. These are interesting and exciting times. I want to thank my colleagues on the WAFP board for their support, my immediate predecessor Dr. Elizabeth Pyne, for setting a true course, for the WAFP staff, especially Brandon Wimmer and Larry Pfeiffer, for doing all the work, and especially you, our members who not only support the WAFP, but the care you provide to the people of Wisconsin.

As a country doc, I’m really pleased to turn the helm over to Dr. Eric Stader, whose only flaw is he practices in Lancaster, home of the Flying Arrows, rivals to my alma mater the Darlington Redbirds. Beyond that he is a really great person and physician.

And a final antidote. Personally, I thought I’d weathered the past few years quite well. Maybe not. While trying to teach me granddaughter she was now 2 years old, I asked:

“How old are you?"        “Two”

“How old is Grandma?"   “Three” 

Okay, she understood Grandma was older.

“How old is Grandpa?"    “Six”

Humm, almost to the end of her number scale. I’m not sure how many six is in toddler years, but it didn’t sound good.

God speed and again, thanks!

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