Dave Gilchrist, MD
Family Physicians are no stranger to advocacy. It is what we do each day for our patients. We fill out forms, write letters, make phone calls, go to multidisciplinary team meetings, coordinate with specialists and we do all this in the brief moments of our days when we aren't seeing patients or pulled into other issues. It is time consuming and hard work but we know it improves the health of our patients. It is easy in the midst of these busy days to not look up and see how we can advocate for our patients at the level of our community, our region, our state or even our nation.
On April 12th, I joined a group of our members and resident member to go to the state house. We met with legislators and their staff to advocate for our patients and our profession. We were able to have the voice of the MassAFP heard in support of HB3610 regarding strengthening Massachusetts's gun laws to allow guns to be removed with due process in the case of a patient potentially being harmful to others or themselves. We also spoke to legislators about the workforce bill that MassAFP helped draft a year ago now that would expand residency slots for family medicine programs across the state at the existing residency sites.
On May 22nd, I will be in Washington DC with hundreds of other Family Physicians at the Family Medicine Advocacy Summit and will advocate further on the issues that we face as Family Physicians and the challenges our patients face. I want to encourage you to look up and see how you can advocate for your patients and for family medicine if you are not already doing this. Consider serving on a local board that can impact the health of the community or writing an Op-Ed article for a local newspaper about an issue that impacts your patients. Get to know the politicians that serve your community and respond to the "Speak out" emails. Consider financial support of the MassAFP FamMed PAC (Political Action Committee) or the AAFP's FamMed PAC. As Family Physicians, we need to draw from our strengths of individual patient advocacy and advocate at all levels of our communities.
Dave Gilchrist, MD