Source: AAFP News, June 2, 2016, © American Academy of Family Physicians
Back in 2014, at the behest of family physician members, the American Academy of Family Physicians brought an idea that had been brewing for some time to fruition, and just like that, member interest groups (MIGs) were born.
The MIG concept, giving voice to the AAFP’s diverse membership by providing a forum where members with shared professional passions can connect, has become an unabashed success. The number of MIGs swelled from just five in the early days to 15 today with the addition of four new groups that came online recently.
One of those fresh new MIGs, 158 members strong on the dawn of its first official day, is immersed in the topic of point-of-care ultrasound. The group’s chair, Paul Bornemann, MD, told AAFP News that the subject grabbed his interest several years ago, which led him to conduct research and develop curricula related to ultrasound use in family medicine.
Dr. Bornemann, an assistant professor of clinical family and preventive medicine at the Palmetto Health/University of South Carolina Family Medicine Residency program in Columbia, SC, noted that the U.S. health care system is famous for its “high utilization of subspecialist care, use of expensive diagnostic testing, and disparities in access to care.”
He called point-of-care ultrasound an effective tool for physicians or other health care professionals who need a “focused diagnostic protocol or imaging for procedural guidance” at a patient’s bedside.
In addition to obstetrical and musculoskeletal assessment, the technology can be used to assess the heart, lungs, aorta, vasculature, and almost any other system, according to Dr. Bornemann. “As ultrasound machines are rapidly becoming smaller and less expensive, many now fit in the pocket of a white coat and can be obtained at a price affordable to most practices, primary care physicians will have increasing access to this equipment,” he said.
“Its use has been shown to decrease utilization of expensive diagnostic studies, improve quality outcome measures, and decrease complications from procedures,” he added.
Dr. Bornemann noted family physicians’ “huge interest in learning to use this tool and incorporating it into practice.” He said MIG members will advocate for the development of educational materials for residency programs and continuing medical education for practicing physicians. They’ll also work on developing uniform policy and credentialing standards for point-of-care ultrasound.
“The end game is to ‘directly improve our patients’ access to safe, comprehensive, and cost-effective medical care,’” said Dr. Bornemann.
Family physicians looking to empower their patients and communities to adopt healthier lifestyles should consider engaging with the new lifestyle medicine MIG. The group’s chair, Robert Oh, MD, MPH, of Honolulu, told AAFP News that he initiated the start-up petition, collected names, and kick-started the group because “I just want to raise awareness of the power of lifestyle medicine in the health of our nation.”
The MIG launched with 80 members who share that passion.
A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, Dr. Oh also holds a certificate of added qualifications in sports medicine. He said medical school and residency program curricula tend to brush the surface of lifestyle medicine (think nutrition and physical activity) and “focus the majority of learning on how we can treat disease states with what I call ‘pills, potions, and procedures.'”
But a far more effective approach, he added, would be forestalling, or even preventing, the onset of preventable chronic conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
MIG members look forward to further educating their family physician colleagues on lifestyle medicine, beyond what their formal training provided, and exploring topics such as sleep quality, stress management, and professional work-life balance.
Dr. Oh pointed out that physician burnout is reaching record numbers.
“I have a strong sense that we (physicians) are not immune to the chronic, largely preventable conditions that affect the health of our patients.
“We want to focus on our lifestyles as family physicians,” said Dr. Oh. “My guess is that if we improve the health of our workforce, it will naturally bleed over into the lives of our patients and our communities,” he added.
Other MIG News
When it comes to MIGs, the opportunities span a broad range of topics. For instance, a group interested in the national Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative and another looking to support school doctors round out the newest additions.
- Adolescent health
- Direct primary care
- Emergency medicine/urgent care
- Global health
- Hospital medicine
- Independent solo/small group practice
- Oral health
- Reproductive health care
- Rural health
- Single payer health care
Members of these groups depend largely on correspondence to stay in touch throughout the year, and the AAFP has recently made that experience a lot easier by investing in a new online community platform to ensure a user-friendly experience. Physicians can now engage in discussions and follow conversations with other group members on their mobile devices as well as computers.
And come September, MIG members can rub elbows in person during the 2016 Family Medicine Experience (FMX). The FMX is set for Tuesday-Saturday, September 20-24, in Orlando, FL. The AAFP will once again provide each group a place to gather at a designated time to allow for face-to-face discussions and the election of new group leaders.
Furthermore, family physicians can pop into a reception that’s open to all MIG members and family physicians who want to learn more about the groups. Mark your calendar for Thursday, September 22, from 5:30-7 p.m. and become part of this event!