• While the rest of the world turned upside down over the past year, our world in family medicine changed too, but in a completely different way.

    As family physicians, we go on, no matter what else is going on.

    It’s only appropriate then that I begin my term as your board president by thanking all of you. I am grateful for the work you do, and I appreciate the resiliency you display day after day as you work to support your patients and communities.

    I also hope you’re doing what you can to take care of yourself. The challenges presented by COVID-19 have been constant now for 12 months, and they won’t let up soon. In the midst of this pandemic, as you care for others, pause long enough to rest and recharge. Taking time to manage your own well-being is time well spent.

    In addition, it’s important that we continue to help each other. And what better way to support family physicians than by supporting all that family medicine can achieve when we work together?  

    Together we have provided grants to free clinics throughout the country through the AAFP Foundation’s signature humanitarian program, Family Medicine Cares USA – grants that directly assist family physicians supporting patients without the safety net of insurance.

    Together we continue to build the future leaders of family medicine through the Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI). This newsletter includes an article about an outstanding family physician who is applying the lessons learned through ELI to change and improve healthcare delivery in Pennsylvania.

    Family physicians solve puzzles.

    We all have unique reasons for why we’ve chosen family medicine. It felt like a natural choice for me: I’ve always been mission-driven to help, and I love to solve puzzles. What better way to help solve puzzles than by being a family physician?

    Thirty years after I obtained my medical degree, I went back to school and earned a master of public health degree. I did this largely to solve a puzzle: I wanted to understand why smart people couldn’t fix the healthcare system.

    Fortunately, family medicine benefits from smart, brave people – willing to ask tough questions about the system, programs, and possibilities. No one exemplifies this better than Phyl Naragon, the deputy executive director of the Foundation. For the past 20 years, Phyl has been helping us solve puzzles through measurement and evaluation. As she prepares to retire, Phyl reflects on the remarkable progress made over the past two decades: Her story in this newsletter reminds us that – no matter how difficult this moment is – we are moving in the right direction.

    As I look to the future, I believe in the power we have together. We can support the specialty that heals our communities and the people who live there. We can take measure of where we are and determine how to best create positive change. When situations are inequitable, someone must be brave enough to intervene. By supporting the AAFP Foundation, you are changing the future. You are the brave leader we need.

    Thank you!

    With gratitude and hope for tomorrow,