Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Family Medicine: What is Our Essence?

Is Family Medicine losing its identity?  Is the specialty, its leaders and its members selling out?  Is Family Medicine only "Primary Care"?  Do Family Physicians still exist?  Or are they Family Practitioners?  Or Family Medicine Practitioners?  Or Primary Care Practitioners?  Or Primary Care Physicians?

As we seek to serve our patients, our communities and our nation during this time of health care crisis and confusion, is our identity as a specialist in a particular specialty important?  Is any medical specialty important?  Should ANY physician have a specialty?  Do specialties matter?  Should we just have physicians and no specialties?

Should we just have Primary Care Practitioners and Secondary Care Practitioners and Tertiary Care Practitioners?

I see Family Medicine as too willing to sell out our unique identity for short term financial or political success with governments or potential funders.  We're getting too comfortable using generic terms for who we are and what we do.  I'm proud to be a Family Physician!  I'm ecstatic about my Family Medicine specialty with it's history and traditions of service to individuals, families and communities.

I worry that the essence of Family Medicine and Family Physicians is being watered down and sold out.  What do you think?

Definition of Family Medicine
Family medicine is the medical specialty which provides continuing, comprehensive health care for the individual and family. It is a specialty in breadth that integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences. The scope of family medicine encompasses all ages, both sexes, each organ system and every disease entity. (1986) (2010 COD)  from the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Family Medicine Scope and Philosophical Statement
In summary, the family physician of today is rooted in the historical generalist tradition. The specialty is three dimensional, combining knowledge and skill with a unique process. The patient-physician relationship in the context of the family is central to this process and distinguishes family medicine from other specialties. Above all, the scope of family medicine is dynamic, expanding, and evolutionary.
(1992) (2011 COD)

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