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Am Fam Physician. 2005;71(12):2230

Introducing new workforce “one-pagers”

Is recruiting more physicians the answer to the workforce issues facing family medicine? Most workforce studies have concluded that there are not enough primary care physicians. The Future of Family Medicine Project set out by considering the role of family physicians rather than the number of family physicians. To help reevaluate workforce issues, the American Academy of Family Physicians commissioned a workforce study by the Robert Graham Center: Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the Center for the Health Professions in San Francisco.

This issue of American Family Physician presents the first of a series of nine reports addressing the study’s outcomes. These reports are intended to stimulate discussion about the next steps for the physician and health care workforce. The full text of the study can be found on the Robert Graham Center Web site at It is hoped that the series of “one-pagers” and the complete report will lead to debate and ultimately policies that promote family medicine’s ability to reach its goals.

Issue highlights

Secondary prevention of CHD—Coronary heart disease (CHD) is still the leading cause of mortality in this country. The cover article by Ibrahim R. Hanna, M.D., and Nanette K. Wenger, M.D., discusses secondary preventive measures including lifestyle changes (e.g., exercise, smoking cessation), lipid lowering, weight reduction, glucose control, and management of diabetes and hypertension. This article is one in a series developed in collaboration with the American Heart Association.

Apparent life-threatening events—Many family physicians have encountered frantic parents after a child has experienced what appears to be a life-threatening event. Apparent life-threatening event syndrome usually affects children younger than one year, and about one half of patients are diagnosed with an underlying condition that explains the event. The article on apparent life-threatening events provides information to help the family physician evaluate an affected infant, discern the underlying cause, and determine whether further monitoring is needed.

Summer threats: ticks and surfing injuries.—Two articles in this issue are particularly important as summer approaches. Family physicians should consider tick-borne diseases when patients present with influenza-like symptoms. Early, accurate diagnosis can help prevent significant morbidity. It is also important to advise patients about prevention of tick bites; a patient education handout written by the authors of this article is provided. For physicians in coastal areas, the article on health issues for surfers will be valuable. Surfers are prone to injuries from their own surfboard, as well as jellyfish, coral reefs, and even sharks. Sun exposure and skin cancer risk is another inherent danger. A patient education handout on safe surfing is included.

Focus groups offer advice on enhancing AFP

The AFP patient education handouts can be useful tools for readers. We recently conducted two focus groups to obtain feedback on these and other sections of the journal. While the participating physicians had diverse opinions, most of them like the patient education pieces, believe they are written at the appropriate level, and use them in their practice. They also complimented the conciseness of the articles, the algorithms, and the practical content. Participants offered advice about several departments, and we will use this information in our ongoing efforts to make AFP a valuable resource for everyone.

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