For the first time in three years, STFM members were able to come together at the 2022 STFM Annual Spring Conference. Attendees from all over the world converged for three days in Indianapolis, Indiana — some traveled from as far as South Africa — for workshops, general sessions, poster presentations, meetings, networking, and the STFM Foundation’s Marathonaki, and Medipalooza events.
Donations made to the STFM Foundation — large or small — create scholarships, fellowships, awards, and more, allowing the STFM Foundation to provide up-and-coming family medicine talent with training, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities. These programs would not be possible without the generosity of the members of STFM. Thank you to all who have already participated in the 20 in 2022 We Can’t Do It Without You, and we invite those who haven’t to make a donation today.
It is the year 2026, “Triple Aim Hits the Bullseye: Health Care System Rises in Access and Quality While Lowering Costs” flashes across the screen of a daily new show. In this moment of reflection, I take the time to remember where the American health care system was 10 years prior and view the current landscape of healthcare with optimism. It had been a long, arduous battle, but after years of reform, cooperation, and evolution, the United States health care mega-complex had undergone such tremendous reform that the world no longer viewed the US as a model of big spending and inefficiencies, but as a model of reform and innovation.
But why? What had become of the system fraud with inequities, corruption, overspending, and compromised patient care? It was no more, thanks to an established network of primary care physicians who took a corrupt model of healthcare, flipped it upside down and created a system that no longer served the interests of insurance companies, hospital systems, pharmaceutical companies, and bureaucracies.
Family medicine changed everything. The collective momentum of insightful minds who put the system in a new perspective and created a model of healthcare where patients’ interests and well-being were prioritized through a system of primary care physicians and preventive care models that promoted well-being.
Why Family medicine? Why was this the specialty that pushed itself to the forefront in a sea of confusion and uncertainty?
Because we offer a perspective unlike any other, caring for all patients, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, income, or education.
Because our relationships with patients are like no other. Just as much as we may impact our patient’s lives, they impact ours.
Because we introduced the model of shared decision making, allowing patients a vested interest in their own care, simplifying communication and tailoring decisions on the wants and needs of our patients.
Because we created quality metrics that were meaningful and improved outcomes, allowing for a greater understanding of our community at an individual level and in the frame of an entire population.
Because we expanded the concept of the ‘end of life’ discussion with our patients and their families in our clinical environment, building on a relationship of trust and care to prevent pain and uncertainty for the patient and their family, creating peace and closure when the time comes.
Because we continued to improve medical education, training world-class students and residents to pursue the challenge of healthcare reform to serve as advocates for our patients and the needs of all physicians.
Because we built a system that utilized novel technologies through virtual care, internet based communications and social media to connect with patients in ways that had never been seen. Increasing access and strengthening relationships.
Because we provided clarity and leadership in the age of ‘alphabet soup’ of healthcare reform, the age of the ACA, ACO, HMO, and MACRA, and created modern models for delivery of care that put the patient first.
Because we reached out to those who needed care the most, giving everyone in this country a chance to pursue their American dream and live a happy, healthy life.
Family medicine became the foundation for healthcare innovation and improvement in the 21st century. Not only did we revolutionize healthcare, but together, we saved it.
I never got up the courage to say it out loud to the senior physician leader who had declared he was now officially my mentor. Not exactly the way I usually start off a mentor-mentee relationship, but my leadership coach said be curious and go with it.
We met for my semiannual check-in. I came prepared to share what progress I had made over the past months since we last met and had some goals I wanted to get his advice on. He started with “How have things been going?” and within the first 30 seconds he had interrupted me and taken over the conversation. Over the next 45 minutes I never got more than a sentence in before he started talking again. He wrapped up by telling me what I needed to work on before our next meeting while escorting me out of his office. (I have to say, if that is how we make patients feel during office visits, shame on us!) It was an unsatisfying encounter leaving me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and angry.