Reprinted from the fall 2018 issue of The Ohio Family Physician.
By: Stan Anderson, MD, FAAFP
As the 71st president of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, I am truly blessed. To all our members, thank you for your confidence and trust. I promise that I will do my very best to execute the duties of this office. Family medicine, as a specialty, has been around for many years, and I’d like to take a moment to celebrate our accomplishments.
During the past year, a lot has happened. From surpassing the 5,000-membership milestone to discovering new ways to provide fast, efficient, quality medical care; we have truly come a long way. Back in the early days, physicians used to travel to their patient’s homes when they were sick and would stay up all night until their work was done. They may not have had all the answers, but their patients trusted them. Family physicians are the hope-bringers of society and the pillars of their communities.
My wife, Cathy, remembers going to the doctor’s office with her grandparents when she was young. Her family physician provided medical care at his house and the living room was his waiting room. Many people did not have the money for medical care, so they paid with chickens or produce from their farms. This was the golden age of medicine, and my how times have changed! The famous Norman Rockwell paintings are just a visual reminder of the vital importance of family medicine and its impact on health care in the United States.
It’s no accident that the family physician has always been the most valued and trusted person in their community. It was because of the sacrifices and dedication to their patients that family medicine has developed such a good reputation.
Without the example of the early family physicians, we would not be in the position that we are in today. You, the family physician, have paved the way. You brought health and hope to millions of Americans. You have laid a firm foundation in health care. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
Just a decade ago, we did not have the breakthroughs in medicine, nor the access to technology or research, that we have today. Our family physician forefathers and foremothers paid a price for their dedication to the families they served with their own physical and mental health, and suffered severely from the time they missed with their own families. A family physician’s spouse also had a difficult life, because their husband or wife was rarely home due to the high demand for medical care.
For this, I want to acknowledge the sacrifices that families have made. Personally, I want to thank my wife, Cathy, for supporting me through thick-and-thin, and for better or worse. I believe that behind every successful person is a supportive team and my family is mine. I can admit that I have many faults, but my wife chooses me every day and I am forever grateful for her companionship. Also, I want to thank my children – Jocelyn, Meredith, Thane, and Caleb – for allowing me to be involved with the OAFP. I love you all very much.
I first got involved with the Academy in 1993 when Gregory Haban, MD, who could no longer commit to the duties required of him as district director, asked me to take his place. At my first meeting, I met so many dedicated and hardworking people that I was instantly hooked. I was honored to be given the opportunity to give back to the specialty of family medicine.
Not long after, I had to make the difficult decision to step down from the Board of Directors while my children were growing up. When I became involved again in the early 2000s, I was pleased to see the changes in leadership and the consistency of being able to take on difficult challenges as they arose.
As I accept this new role as president, I say thank you to all those who came before me. I continue to be inspired by the Academy’s leadership and their commitment to family medicine. Each president has brought new excitement and ideas to the position, and I will do my best to maintain the high standards that have been set. I have come to realize that medicine, as a whole, has become more specialized. In today’s medicine, the family physician must be a forever learner – constantly seeking new knowledge to help maintain their patient’s health.
For years, family physicians have been labeled as the jack-of-all-trades and the master of none. There are some in the medical field who consider us to be the lowest man on the totem pole as well as being the least paid specialty, but we must not accept that. With little respect from other specialties and insurance companies who refer to us as providers instead of physicians, we must continue to advocate for family medicine.
Many medical schools tell their students not to waste their talents on being a generalist – a family physician. We live in a society that values specialized knowledge rather than the breadth of knowledge. There are many medical students who graduate who are afraid to commit to being a family physician because they worry about paying off their student loan debts.
But, every analyst and think tank that looks at the delivery of medicine have all come to the same conclusion – people receiving medical care from a family physician receive higher quality care at lower cost in comparison to those receiving care from a subspecialist. Medicine works best because of the family physician. We are the secret ingredient in health care – we are the secret sauce.
We have many challenges facing us, but as OAFP president, I commit to providing you my best. Undoubtedly, we will continue to struggle with high physician burnout, OARRS, government regulations and intervention, and much more. But as your president, I will continue to advocate for family medicine and help in any way that I can. We will continue to have wellness conferences focusing on membership needs, as well as providing you the latest information in health care. I hope this year to lead the Academy with grace, poise, humor, and dignity. The OAFP will continue to work for you. We will continue the proud traditions that got us here, as well as celebrate 70 more years in family medicine.
Last, I would like to ask our members, why did you choose family medicine? More than likely, it was because you wanted to make a difference. As family physicians, we want to make the world a better place; we want to help people. When we become family physicians, we do so because it is our calling. Our role is not just a job or punching a time clock. We are truly involved and help people through the most difficult times in their lives. I cannot think of a more rewarding career than being a family physician. It is an honor, a sacred trust, and the reason I can say, “I am proud to be a family physician!” Thank you for your trust in me. I will do everything in my power to honor the past, continue the ongoing work of the present, and look forward to a brighter future ahead.