AAFP Statement: Family Physicians Applaud Nomination

Regina Benjamin, MD, Would Bring Expertise, Leadership, Commitment to Surgeon General Office

Monday, July 13, 2009

Statement attributable to:
Ted Epperly, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Family physicians across the nation applaud President Barack Obama’s nomination of Regina Benjamin, MD, to be U.S. surgeon general.

“Dr. Benjamin’s medical expertise, clinical experience, commitment to her patients, and advocacy for all patients make her uniquely qualified for serving America as the nation’s doctor. As a family physician, she has dedicated her career to ensuring that everyone, regardless of economic status, has access to care. Her patients saw that dedication when hurricanes George and Katrina struck Alabama and she cared for those injured in the storm, made house calls on her own patients, and helped them pay their pharmacy bills during the crisis, even as she struggled to rebuild her own badly damaged medical clinic.

“Since founding the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama, Dr. Benjamin knows first-hand how our broken health care system has affected the health and lives of Americans. As a family physician serving rural, low-income families, she has seen the toll taken by poor access to preventive care and lack of health insurance, and she has relentlessly advocated for preventive care and health care coverage for all.

“She has felt the pressure of the primary care physician shortage and, as associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, she has focused on encouraging medical students to enter primary medical care careers that provide both professional satisfaction and service to the community.

“Dr. Benjamin, a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has shared her commitment to patient health and patient care with her peers, serving as president of the Medical Association of Alabama and as the first African-American woman and physician under 40 on the American Medical Association Board of Trustees.

“As a practicing family physician, as an advocate for patients, as an individual who has faced down crises and overcome disasters, Dr. Benjamin has demonstrated the expertise, commitment and leadership America needs in a surgeon general.

“The AAFP fully supports President Obama’s nomination. We call on the U.S. Senate to act quickly to confirm her. Quick action will ensure that American patients have an advocate who will work to ensure all have access to high quality health care.”

Editor’s note: To arrange an interview with Ted Epperly, MD, contact Leslie Champlin, at 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited 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(www.familydoctor.org).