- Jennifer Middleton, MD, MPH
AFP provides content on a variety of issues that may compel a larger call to social justice. Articles on caring for the homeless, victims of intimate partner violence, and ethnic minorities demonstrate our specialty's mission to care for all. Promoting breastfeeding, gun safety, and oral health can help patients avoid potentially catastrophic outcomes. Our generalist's perspective can provide expertise on issues such as debated cancer screenings (breast, prostate, and lung) and unnecessary interventions (antibiotics, imaging). We are also well-suited to comment on public health issues such as obesity, opioid misuse, and even global warming.
We may recognize, however, that knowing these medical facts is only the first step to meeting our patients' and communities' needs. Sharing our perspective as family physicians is another important way that we can care for our communities.
Every year, the AAFP's Family Medicine Advocacy Summit takes a group of interested family physicians, trains them in political advocacy, and takes them to Capitol Hill to meet with their elected officials. This opportunity is undoubtedly valuable for those able to participate, but family physicians unable to make this trip now have other ways to get involved. Joining the Family Physician Action Network is a great first step; signing up will provide you with resources to be an effective advocate for your patients. An overview is available on the Family Physician Action Center website, including a primer on the legislative process and tips to maximize your engagement over social media as well as conduct an effective telephone or in-person conversation with your elected officials. Speaking up doesn't have to take a lot of time, and it can have a powerful impact. AFP's Graham Center One-Pagers Department Collection provides succinct talking points on a variety of topics.
The AAFP has also decreed tomorrow the first "Family Medicine Day of Action." You can post a "Stay Well Soon" e-postcard to your Facebook, Twitter, and/or Tumblr contacts by clicking here. AAFP's goal is to have 1000 people post with a goal of 1,000,000 views. It's an easy way to promote Family Medicine and all we have to offer our patients and communities.
Whether it's attending the Advocacy Summit, getting involved in the Action Network, or posting a #staywellsoon e-postcard, all of us can find a way to speak up. What will yours be?