Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., told a group of health care leaders at a stop on his Surgeon General House Calls Listening Tour that one of his key goals is helping health care organizations work together, an effort that an AAFP representative at the conversation said aligns with the Academy's goals.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., heard from the AAFP and other health care leaders during a stop at the University of Kansas Medical Center on his Surgeon General House Calls Listening Tour.
Murthy opened the meeting on Jan. 29 by saying that family medicine is what drew him to a career in health care.
"I got a taste of medicine and health care through my parents because my father was a family medicine doctor and my mother built and ran his practice," he said at the event. "The two of them really showed me what it was like to contribute and be a part of improving someone else's health. It was not just about medicine but it was about relationships and building connections with people. It was about providing an infrastructure of support for them when things were good but also when things went bad. In the process, they themselves became enriched and grew as people. I benefitted from that as their son. That is what inspired me to go into health care."
Murthy launched the listening tour to discuss health care challenges and find ways his office can work with health care organizations to improve the nation's health.
He said the multi-week, 21-stop tour is just the start of dialogue with regional public health leaders that he wants to continue through his four-year term.
- Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., heard from the AAFP and other health care leaders on Jan. 29 at the University of Kansas Medical Center during a stop on his Surgeon General House Calls Listening Tour.
- Julie Wood, M.D., AAFP vice president of health of the public and science and interprofessional activities, said the meeting confirmed that the Academy is aligned with Murthy in important work to improve health.
- One of Murthy's priorities is to better connect communities' work on public health issues.
Julie Wood, M.D., AAFP vice president of health of the public and science and interprofessional activities, represented the Academy at the Kansas City, Kan., stop.
"It provided an excellent opportunity to learn about the Surgeon General's priorities and plans as well as confirm that (the AAFP) is aligned in important work to improve population health and health outcomes," Wood said. "AAFP has a strong and increasing focus on providing care for the community as a population, as well as improved integration with our public health colleagues."
Murthy said one of his priorities is to help communities discuss challenges and share solutions on public health issues.
"It has become clear to me that as we struggle to overcome the health challenges that we're facing, many folks feel a sense of isolation in that effort," he said. "That's a feeling that I want the office of the Surgeon General to help people overcome. We want to build platforms to enable people to access lessons and connect with individuals directly who are leading efforts in communities across the country."
The AAFP has helped spur such efforts through the Practical Playbook initiative, which offers online resources to help primary care and public health professionals integrate their work and the BUILD Health Challenge, which provides grant and loan funding to foster and expand meaningful partnerships among health systems, community-based organizations, local health departments and other organizations that affect community health.
In December, the Academy outlined the family physician's role in the work in a position paper titled "Integration of Primary Care and Public Health."
At the listening session, Murthy also discussed e-cigarettes, chronic pain management, childhood obesity, pandemic illness and immunization.
"My hope for the future is that one day, we can build a community where everything in our community supports health," he said. "The way our cities are built, the way our schools are run, the way our businesses operate, the way our local city government operates, as well as the way our clinics and our health care systems deliver care and make them accessible and affordable to our community members. To do that will take the partnership of everyone."