To the Editor:
I am fortunate to practice in an area very open to family medicine. I enjoy more respect and camaraderie from my non-family physician colleagues than other family physicians seem to experience in other parts of the country.
About four months ago, my practice took over a pediatric practice from a pediatrician who has been prominent in the area for more than 30 years. He had no qualms about turning the practice over to three family physicians, and, on the whole, the patients have been very accepting. Our trouble seems to arise when a patient asks one of us what the difference is between family medicine and pediatrics. When we say that we also see adults, most people think, “How can you possibly do both?” I hung the posters distributed by the AAFP as part of its public awareness campaign a few years ago in the waiting room, which helps. I’m also hopeful that the Future of Family Medicine project will help patients find their way to my practice.
My partners and I have third-year medical students doing their family medicine rotation with us. It is clear that the medical school faculty is not pushing family medicine. The students feel the rotation is not very important and consider their assignments busy work. I hope that the Future of Family Medicine project prompts a change in the academic setting: Family medicine should get the respect it deserves, and students should be encouraged to become family physicians.