Commentators Say Family Practice Achieves Much, Faces Challenges
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 12, 2002
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
“Many important health care problems remain unsolved, in part because of poor role delineation for family physicians, poor differentiation of family practice from other fields, and insufficient changes in the cultural and political environment,” the authors write.
The authors point out that the first family practice residencies were launched as the specialty was established in 1969, and by developing innovations in community-based teaching, family practice teachers have made a significant impact. In addition, they point out that of the civilian, non-institutionalized U.S. population surveyed in 1996 who named a usual source of care, 62 percent identified a family physician. Furthermore, the authors say some of the public’s reliance on family practice stems from the geographic distribution of family physicians; their distribution more closely parallels that of the general populace than any other specialty. In 2000, 19.7 percent of the population lived outside metropolitan statistical areas and 25.7 percent of the offices of family physicians or general practitioners were located in such areas, compared to 11.9 percent of other office-based physicians.
The authors identify four main areas for improvement:
- redesigning the work and place of family practice, using the best strategies, tools, and the best information technology available;
- forging alliances with other medical specialties and components of the health care system and better defining the interactions between family practice and them;
- revising training; and
- developing the research capacity and ability of family practice.
# # #
Abstracts for all articles in Academic Medicine can be viewed at www.academicmedicine.org. The full text of the August issue of Academic Medicine is available by pay-per-view online or in print from the publications office of the Association of American Medical Colleges by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.