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Am Fam Physician. 2001 May 1;63(9):1673-1675.

Family Practice Match Results Reveal Declining Numbers

Data released by the National Resident Matching Program show that the initial fill rate for family practice residency programs for 2001 fell for the fourth year in a row. A total of 2,363 positions were filled from 3,096 positions. The proportion of positions filled in family practice has not been this low since 1993, state officials at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). “America's population continues to grow, but with fewer students choosing family practice, the number of family physicians won't keep up,” said AAFP President Richard Roberts, M.D., J.D. “The result will be more subspecialists trained to care for individual health problems—but not enough doctors trained to care for the whole person or the whole family.” The AAFP is working to head off what could be a national health care problem. Studies are under way to examine the factors that influence a student's medical specialty selection so initiatives can be developed to attract the best students to the profession. “Research proves that Americans need family physicians and, more importantly, Americans want family physicians,” said Dr. Roberts. “It is our job to make sure patients get what they need.”

Help Is Available for Tackling Tough Topics with Youngsters

The Kaiser Family Foundation and Children First are co-sponsoring a campaign titled “Talking with Kids About Tough Issues,” as part of a national initiative to support parent-child communications. According to the foundation, when young children want information, advice and guidance, they turn to their parents first. Once they reach the teenage years, they depend more on friends, the media and others for information. For this reason, parents are encouraged to start early and create an open environment for discussing issues. Topics up for discussion include sex, violence, drugs and alcohol. Booklets with advice on initiating discussions with children eight to 12 years of age are available for downloading or can be ordered by telephoning 800-244-5344. For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.talkingwithkids.org.

Physicians Council Prioritizes List of Medicare Concerns

The Practicing Physicians Advisory Council has prepared a list of five Medicare regulatory issues that physicians want fixed. Three of the issues were recommended during testimony by AAFP Director Ross Black II, M.D., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The five areas (the first three of which were highlighted by Black) are advance beneficiary notices, certificates of medical necessity, laboratory services, coverage of follow-up visits for cancer patients and coverage of preoperative evaluations. To read AAFP's statement, go to http://www.aafp.org/gov/fed/20010326.html.

HRSA Budget Will Increase by $1.5 Billion

The budget for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for fiscal year 2001 will reach $6.23 billion, an increase of 32 percent from 2000. President Clinton signed legislation containing the figures in late December. “This new budget tells HRSA and its partners across America that Congress and the administration have great confidence in our mission and our ability to meet it,” said HRSA Administrator Claude Earl Fox, M.D., M.P.H. “It is a strong vote of support for our goals: 100 percent access to health care and zero health disparities for all Americans.”

Conference Invites Entries for Patient Education Award

A call for entries has been issued for the 2001 H. Winter Griffith Award for Excellence in Patient Education Materials. The award will be issued at the 23rd annual Conference on Patient Education, to occur November 15–18 in Seattle, Wash. Awards may be issued for individuals and organizations. Winning submissions will receive a plaque and an award of $500, plus a $300 stipend for travel to the conference. Winners are expected to appear at the awards ceremony and prepare descriptive/biographical information for the award citation. The deadline for entries is June 29. The conference is sponsored by the AAFP and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. For more information, telephone 800-274-2237, ext. 3134, or visit the conference Web site at http://www.aafp.org/pec.

FDA Warns of Labeling Errors That Omit Food Allergens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that despite labeling laws, up to one fourth of food manufacturers fail to list on product packaging all ingredients that can cause allergic reactions. About 7 million Americans have food allergies and rely on packaging for information about allergens such as peanuts and eggs contained as ingredients, said the FDA. “The fact that ingredient listings can be dead wrong certainly points to major shortfalls in food safety,” said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “The accuracy of a label can really save a life.” Many of the allergens found in the FDA study were not deliberately added, but cross-contamination occurred because bakers used the same utensils to stir separate mixes.

Florida Health Official Named to HCFA Post

The Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has appointed Ruben Jose King-Shaw, Jr., to be the deputy administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA). King-Shaw has served as secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration since 1998. From 1995 to 1998, he served as chief operating officer and senior vice president of the Neighborhood Health Partnership, a health services and managed care company. “Ruben has the ideal qualifications to provide leadership at a crucial time in HCFA's history,” Thompson said. As deputy administrator of HCFA, King-Shaw will help lead the agency responsible for managing Medicare and Medicaid. King-Shaw will serve with Thomas A. Scully, who was nominated by President Bush to be HCFA administrator. Scully's nomination requires Senate confirmation.



Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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