• Searching for the Country Doctor

    If you’re searching for an expert on the U.S. healthcare system, physician behavior, and healthcare change and innovation, you’ve come to the right place: Meet Timothy Hoff, Ph.D., professor of management of healthcare systems and health policy at Northeastern University in Boston, a visiting associate professor at Oxford University, and an award-winning author.

    Hoff is also the recipient of the 2019 Sandra L. Panther Fellowship in the History of Family Medicine, and a big fan of a unique AAFP Foundation resource, the Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM).

    “The Center is a really interesting place to learn about the whole concept of how family medicine developed,” Hoff says. “It was a counter-culture idea in the ‘60s to start with, and it’s fascinating to look at the old documents and learn about the people who were influential at the start, the physicians who pushed for this. It wasn’t a certainty it would even become a specialty.”

    Hoff was encouraged to apply for the fellowship after visiting the CHFM on his own to do research. The award allowed him to return to the CHFM in March 2020 (right before the pandemic shutdown), to gather information for his upcoming book, tentatively titled, “The Search for the Country Doctor.”

    “Going to the CHFM should be a required visit for every young family doctor to understand the roots of the specialty,” he says. “I didn’t realize the historical piece of how hot-blooded the start of the family medicine specialty was. This was a revolutionary movement in medicine, a revolutionary act on the part of general practitioners and family doctors who didn’t like that medicine was becoming a bunch of specialists. The intellectual giants in family medicine knew how to use rhetoric and language – this field was full of fire and passion.”

    Hoff says he is “honored and flattered” to have received the prestigious Panther fellowship, and looks forward to sharing research results and more in “The Search for the Country Doctor.”

    “The book focuses on family medicine careers in the modern age, weaving in the historical perspective,” he says. “It will include an historical analysis with 65-70 family doctors on why they choose the career. I’m looking at the evolution, from history to career choices, to tell a story of how this specialty has grown.”

    Hoff’s book will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press and is expected to be released at the end of this year or early 2021.