brand logo

Fam Pract Manag. 2005;12(8):22

In his editorial, “A New Identity for Family Medicine: Physicians for the Underserved,” [May 2005], Dr. Hans Elzinga writes that reinforcing our aim to help those who need it most might attract more students and improve our standing in medical schools and among patients.

The sad fact is that medical students are voting with their feet away from our specialty. An appeal to altruism will not trump considerations of lifestyle, compensation or prestige. If it did, our specialty would be turning away applicants to family medicine residency programs. Our specialty needs to find ways to compete with other specialties where these same issues are concerned. To remain noncompetitive is to become marginalized.

Bravo to Dr. Elzinga. His editorial underscores the very reason I chose to become a doctor and to practice family medicine. I intend to work in an underserved area and can think of no better training than family medicine.

As a family doctor who has practiced in inner-city community centers for four years, I believe Dr. Elzinga’s concept is genius. In a time when people often seem not to care, the desire of family physicians to serve in places where others won’t go separates and defines us, as a specialty and as human beings. This idea should be nurtured in academic centers. I believe many budding family doctors would receive this call with enthusiasm and even, dare I say it, pride.


Send your comments to Submission of a letter will be construed as granting AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. We cannot respond to all letters we receive. Those chosen for publication will be edited for length and style.

Continue Reading

More in FPM

Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.