We in family medicine have embarked on an epic adventure. Our task is nothing less than the remaking of health care in America for the future while caring for our patients in the present. As a specialty, we are climbing a mountain, beset by driving winds and cold, but we can see the alpenglow of the mountain pass above us.
I am passionate about communicating the importance of family medicine and advocating on behalf of our members and patients. I love policy, but I use a wealth of stories accumulated through practicing in an isolated Alaskan community to demonstrate the value proposition of family medicine to politicians. I use these stories to explain the importance of family physicians to the media. I use these stories to illustrate the exhilaration and joy of being a family doctor to medical students.
I understand the realities of caring for our patients despite a dysfunctional health care system. In these turbulent times we must communicate our positions with wit and resolve, speaking on behalf of our patients. If Family Physicians are to change healthcare, we must be heard above the noise. We can do this with our stories.
Our academy must take care of our members and if necessary, aggressively intervene on their behalf. We cannot tolerate that more than half of us feel burned out. We should not tolerate outside entities inserting themselves into the patient physician relationship. We must advocate for our members in their dealings with employers, hospital administrators, and payors. We must ensure access to reproductive health. Our communities must have the resources they need to reduce social disparities. We have a lot to do. This is a big mountain we are climbing.
The AAFP is a member run organization and our diversity makes us strong. My loyalty will be to you and the vision that you develop through the Congress of Delegates. I have learned about adventure living in frontier Alaska, but this one we share is the most amazing adventure ever. It would be an honor to serve you.
John Cullen, MD
image credit Jonaton Pie