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Thursday Feb 13, 2020

Why family physicians should not “just” be physicians

Workers require a reasonable workload, control, rewards, community, fairness, and alignment with their values to remain satisfied and productive.1 Yet physicians today have less influence and control over the conditions that govern their day-to-day practice experience, and the intrinsic rewards of their practices are decreased as a result.

Writing in the current issue of FPM, the Opinion authors describe how “continuous outpatient clinical work, including the electronic health record (EHR) tasks associated with it, isolates clinicians from their clinical colleagues, other staff members, and their friends and families.”

It is essential for all health care organizations to envision the family physician’s role as something larger than the day-to-day practice of seeing individual patients, they write. This larger role is a vital ingredient in physician retention and leadership development.

If your organization needs to broaden its vision of family physicians’ roles, here are three changes to advocate for:

1. Meaningful physician involvement in “systems” projects, such as quality improvement initiatives.

2. Clearly defined options for role diversification and the capacity to take advantage of them.

3. Payment models that pay physicians to think, not just to do. For example, organizations could budget a fraction of each physician’s hours to systems projects of the physician’s choosing, akin to the CME model.

The goal is to help the organization move beyond the idea that it “costs” something any time physicians are not seeing patients, and understand these activities are part of the short- and long-term balance of costs and benefits involved in a sustainable clinical role.

1. Leiter MP, Maslach C. Six areas of worklife: a model of the organizational context of burnout. J Health Hum Serv Adm. 1999;21(4):472–489.


Read the full FPM Opinion article: “Why Family Physicians Should Not “Just” Be Physicians: Rethinking Physician Roles in Community Health Centers and Beyond.”

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Posted at 08:00PM Feb 13, 2020 by FPM Editors

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