Monday, February 13, 2012

The state of family medicine is ... ?

A special report on "The State of Family Medicine" in the current issue of AFP's sister publication, Family Practice Management, reviews data from 2011 Residency Match and American Academy of Family Physicians' member surveys to arrive at a mixed conclusion about the current status of the specialty:

On the one hand, family medicine has its challenges, including administrative hassles, a lack of support in the health care system, and threats to its comprehensiveness and scope of practice. On the other hand, family medicine has a lot going for it, including recent efforts to create primary care incentives, incomes well above the national average, and solid evidence of its value to the health care system.

Although the glass may appear to be either half-full or half-empty for today's family physicians, depending on one's perspective, there is a widespread consensus that there aren't nearly enough of us to handle the projected millions of new patients who will be seeking primary care as the result of health reform. An article published in last week's Washington Post quoted AAFP President Glen Stream, MD and Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care director Robert Phillips, MD, MSPH on the urgent need to address the economic realities that drive many students away from careers in family medicine and primary care.

Since 2000, AFP has published a series of One-Pagers produced by the Graham Center that examine broad historical trends in the scope and practice of family medicine, the impact of policy changes on the primary care workforce, and the often underestimated benefits that primary care physicians bring to the U.S. health system. Collectively, they are an invaluable resource for illustrating the current "state of family medicine." The full text of each of these One-Pagers is available online without access restrictions from the date of publication.