Our history continually expands, and so does the remarkable archive at the AAFP Foundation’s Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM). Dr. John Geyman – a family medicine leader once described as “a physician for the people” by activist Ralph Nader – has donated an extensive collection of his writings, including books, journal articles, and Common Sense pamphlets, to the CHFM.
“It’s a prolific collection of work spanning many decades – Dr. Geyman started publishing in 1967 and he is still publishing,” says Crystal Bauer, MLS, CHFM manager. “He has seen the ebb and flow of family medicine, he has seen the evolution, and we’re honored he chose us for this donation.”
Geyman, now professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington, first became involved in family practice in the 1960s, as the specialty was being developed.
“History is very important to the discipline, to the country, and to me as a participant along the way,” Geyman says. “We need to know where the profession has been, where it’s going, and what the challenges are.”
Those challenges, he says, include the current corporate environment in the U.S.
“I hoped family medicine would become the foundation of care in this country, but the medical profession has been taken over in large part by Wall Street and corporate interests – small practices are almost extinct and two-thirds of doctors are now employed by hospital systems. It’s a far cry from what I wanted to see.”
Still, he believes the family medicine specialty has tremendous potential and value. Looking to the future, Geyman is finishing another book: “The Transformation of U.S. Health Care: One Family Physician’s Journey, 1960-2020.” He has written more than 20 books, along with articles on everything from the Affordable Care Act to flying. (Check out his website. The doctor’s impressive bio includes membership in UFOs – United Flying Octogenarians.) Bauer is happy to scan information from the Geyman collection for you now; the vast and varied materials are scheduled to be digitized next year.
“All the materials we gather help promote future, further research,” Bauer says. “For example, Dr. Geyman’s Common Sense pamphlets break down the complexity of health care as it relates to family medicine. For family doctors without much time, this provides a quick and readily accessible assessment of health care.”
Geyman encourages you to consider contributing your collection to the archive, as well.
“Everyone’s experience in family medicine is different and as many people as possible should donate to the Center,” Geyman says. “Our combined experience builds the history of the specialty.”