Part of our role as Family Medicine Physicians is to be advocates. We can advocate in the clinic for our patients or we can extend our advocacy beyond the walls of the clinic to the larger community.
I first started to consider advocacy on a larger level when I was a 2nd year resident and went the AAFP Family Medicine Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. It was here that I met other Family Medicine Physicians who were active with the California AFP (CAFP). It was inspiring to see other physicians work in their practices and find time to advocate for Family Medicine and their patients. While speaking with them, I learned how to continue to be involved in a local and state level when I returned back home to San Diego.
It has been exciting and personally rewarding to join in the advocacy efforts with the CAFP during this pandemic. When it felt at times as though I could do nothing to help during this pandemic, the advocacy opportunities I participated in helped me feel as though I could help make a difference. With the help of the CAFP, I have been honored to speak to decision makers to advocate for our profession and the patients we serve.
Last Fall, I had the honor of speaking with Governor Newsom about my experiences caring for patients during this pandemic among with a few other health care workers throughout the state. I was able to share the story of my patient who died from covid. He was one of my first patients I cared for when I started residency. I saw him every month for 5 years before he got infected with covid, was hospitalized, and ended up dying at home on hospice. Now, I no longer get to see him. This story is not unique to my patient’s family and to myself as a Family Medicine Physician. We have all lost family, friends, and patients during this pandemic.
In December, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a Covered California virtual statewide media event to speak as a trusted messenger and encourage Californians to take safety precautions to avoid getting Covid-19. During the press event, I shared the story of a pregnant patient with Covid-19 pneumonia who was having trouble breathing and wondered if she would be able to push her baby out. I hoped the story of this pregnant women would encourage others, especially younger folks, to be more careful and take precautions to avoid infection themselves or their loved ones.
Although I had only been sporadically involved in smaller events with the CAFP prior to these opportunities, I grew more comfortable with speaking with elected officials and was privileged to be offered these advocacy opportunities. I encourage anyone who would like to get involved in advocating for their patients and for Family Medicine to reach out to the CAFP. Many of these events are now virtual, so there’s no travel involved! I have not had any special training to participate in these events, so anyone can do it. I am merely sharing the stories of the patients I care for in order to advocate for the needs of the communities we serve.
Using the advocacy opportunities provided by the CAFP, our voices as Family Medicine Physicians are amplified to uplift our profession and the patients we serve!
If you are interested, please reach out firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified of any future advocacy opportunities.
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