Monthly Archives: May 2012

Each One Reach One

Trail runners are a friendly bunch.  Being crazy enough to wake up before dawn on Sunday to run eleven miles over hilly, root-ridden trails creates a special bond.

On this morning’s run, I met a college freshman who wants to be a primary care doctor.  He told me we could reduce the cost of health care by treating patients via email and the internet.   While some patients need to be seen regularly and some conditions diagnosed in person, other patients can be treated via email with an annual face-to-face visit.  I was proud to tell him that I email my patients regularly and send prescriptions electronically via a secure patient portal.

This college student’s perceptive statement impressed me.  I realized I have become so enmeshed in health care that I have forgotten how  closely folks outside our professional family follow these issues.  To a generation that has grown up with email, text messaging, and social media, the question isn’t why should we communicate electronically, but why shouldn’t we.

I spent the next twenty minutes selling him on family medicine.  I told him about the variety of patients you see and how you can use state of the art technology to communicate with and treat patients.  I can  look up the current treatment of malaria in a young adult who recently returned from a family funeral in west Africa, then send an email to make sure the treatment worked.

Today’s college students may not choose family medicine for the same reasons I did, but I want them to see that they can use cutting edge information technology to communicate with their patients, treat a wide variety of medical conditions , and focus on different areas of interest as their careers and views evolve.  We have to show the next generation how fun and satisfying family medicine can be.


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The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

After attending the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Annual Leadership Forum and National Conference of Special Constituencies this past week, I am optimistic about the future of our specialty.

Dr. Marie Elizabeth Ramas of Mount Shasta, California

While health care costs are rising and we have still not found a way to care for the millions of uninsured in the United States, the energy and passion of the hundreds of family doctors who gathered in Kansas City fills me with hope and enthusiasm.

I renewed old acquaintances, made new friends, and put faces to Twitter handles.  Millenials, Generation Yers, Gen Xers, and Boomers shared their commitment to their patients and to solving the problems we faces.

We discussed the many challenges facing our country’s healthcare system, our patients, and our specialty: ever increasing healthcare costs, lack of access to primacy care doctors, and inadequate supply of primary care physicians.   We talked about Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Homes.

For years, friends and colleagues have urged me to attend this meeting.  For years, I said I was too busy taking care of my patients.  Now I am glad I made the time to go.  Spending four days with current and future leaders of our specialty has recharged me for the challenges ahead.

Family Medicine Revolution

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Things Aren’t Like They Used To Be

First, your knees start to go. Then, food doesn’t taste the same.  As our bodies age, we often cannot do things as well as we used to. Maybe your joints are stiffer than in years past or your memory is not as sharp. Some of these changes are normal parts of aging, but others are early signs of a serious problem.

Today, many people remain active well in to their later years. To help you stay healthy and enjoy a good quality of life after age 65, you should see your doctor at least once a year for a head to toe check up.

We call this a Senior Assessment. It is a more detailed examination than your usual doctor’s visit. Whether or not you consider yourself a “senior,” your doctor can help you stay active and healthy.

During these check ups, we will ask you:

• Are you able to live alone or do you need help?

• Do you have the help you need at home?

• Have you fallen in the last 6 months?

• Do you have a Living Will or Advanced Directive?

• Do you have trouble controlling your bladder?

• Are you having trouble seeing or hearing?

• Are you having trouble remembering things?

• Do you have to use a cane or walker?

• Do you feel sad or down?

• Can you get out of a chair, walk 10 feet, and sit back down in less than 20 seconds?

• Can you keep track of your medicines or do you need help?

• Do you feel safe driving at night?

If you have not had a check up like this in the last 12 months, make an appointment to see your doctor.

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