At the end of February, my practice started planning for the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) without fully understanding what was to come. Thinking we were ahead of the game, I was proud of the presentation my partner created for our office and naively thought it would be business as usual from then on. None of us anticipated the triage protocols that change daily, the home quarantine for staff with fevers, the period of uncertainty for sick and well patients who had been mixing in our waiting room, the socially distant silos consuming our community, the transition to almost 100% virtual visits, and how much the practice of medicine could be accomplished in our parking lot. A hard reality has been the tough financial decisions affecting our staff, who are like family and who won't have any other sources of income during this time. I'm bracing for something even worse though—the possible loss of patients, colleagues, and loved ones.
But where do we go from here? I've been pondering the role of American Family Physician (AFP) in all of this and realized that there are important parallels between my practice world and my journal world. As family physicians, we stand by our patients and communities the best way we can amidst chaos. As we learn how to navigate this evolving crisis, we can't forget the many other clinical conditions that still need our diligent attention. AFP will continue to cover a variety of topics to meet the needs of our specialty. We are ever so grateful to our authors, reviewers, and editors for helping us deliver this content while their lives are turned upside down. And, just as family physicians have had to adapt to meet patient needs, AFP is adapting to meet reader needs.
We're stepping outside of our usual editorial processes to quickly add and share new content. For example, the AFP home page now contains a section devoted to COVID-19 (https://www.aafp.org/afp). Within this section we will display a COVID-19 Daily Research Brief, courtesy of Dr. Mark Ebell, deputy editor for evidence-based medicine, family physician, and professor of epidemiology. I suspect you are all getting a barrage of emails with clinical information on COVID-19 with little time to analyze what's truly relevant. Each research brief will be a succinct analysis of a key study to make this information easier to digest. Additionally, we provide COVID-19 resources pertinent to primary care (https://www.aafp.org/journals/afp/explore/COVID-19.html). The resources include a collection of commentaries from the AFP blog, links to American Academy of Family Physicians content, tips on telehealth and billing from FPM, and more.
Another way we thought AFP could serve you is to promote a sense of connectedness among colleagues working through this challenging time. We are reviving a beloved department that I had the pleasure of editing more than 15 years ago, Diary from a Week in Practice (https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1215/p2415.html). This feature began in 1992 out of a private practice in Kissimmee, Fla., with the goal of celebrating the diversity of family medicine and the many joys and challenges that we face daily. This goal still rings true today, and now more than ever is a perfect time to share our experiences and promote camaraderie. We plan to have regular contributors for this feature but also allow guest contributors to ensure that we are covering a full spectrum of clinical settings and experiences.
For our readers who may not be familiar with Diary from a Week in Practice, two past examples can be viewed at https://www.aafp.org/afp/1998/0101/p54.html and https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1215/p2467.html. You can also search AFP's website with the word “diary” and then limit the search by type in the left navigation bar to find all entries listed under Diary from a Week in Practice. If you would like to be a guest contributor, please email us at email@example.com. Our hope is to get this feature up and running more quickly than our traditional processes have allowed, and submissions are welcome.
Editor's Note: Dr. Sexton is editor-in-chief of AFP.