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The Academy's new symbol gives it a lot to live up to.

Fam Pract Manag. 2008;15(1):6

You may have noticed that the familiar AAFP seal has been replaced on our cover by a new and quite different version. The seal, which started life in 1947 as the seal of the American Academy of General Practice, has been modified a couple of times before, but never as radically as it has been now. The complex symbolism of the fasces, the laurels and oak leaves, and the staff of Aesculapius is gone, replaced by the image of a snake curled around a torch. The Academy explains the new symbol as follows: “The torch's guiding light embodies honor, valor and victory. The flame begins with the representation of the serpent wrapped around the torch signifying the Aesculapius staff and the symbols of healing and the renewing power of life that go with it” (

There's a lot to live up to in the torch and snake, in the slogan that often appears with it (“Strong Medicine for America”) and in the phrase “bold champion,” which the Academy is now using to describe itself. But the Academy is trying hard to do what all this implies by making a real difference in the lives of its members and their patients. It's devoting millions of dollars to new efforts to return primary care to the center of the health care system. Some of the major efforts:

  • Through FamMedPac and other means, the Academy is trying to influence the current presidential campaigns.

  • As part of an intense effort to promote the concept of the patient-centered medical home, the Academy sponsored a medical home summit for policymakers, employers and payers this past November.

  • With ads running in major newspapers, Capitol Hill publications, online and even on satellite radio, the Academy is trying to get across to decision makers that primary-care-based health care is better and cheaper.

  • By developing a new Web site, Family Health Advocate (, the Academy is hoping to marshal grass roots support for the values of primary care.

You can learn more at Keep your fingers crossed, and consider doing what you can to advance the cause. The support of membership will have a lot to do with whether the torch really does embody valor and victory.

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