During my third-year family medicine clerkship, I loved watching residents and faculty members advocate for their patients. They juggled notes and phone calls to other members of the healthcare team, explained test results and addressed patient concerns, and helped patients find health solutions that would fit into their daily lives. I valued the way they approached each patient as a whole person, advocating daily for their health and well being. Their efforts inspired me to join their ranks as a family physician.
Since then, I have learned that advocating for patients, both on an individual and collective basis, is a true a hallmark of family medicine. That’s why I was thrilled when, last month, AzAFP provided me with an incredible opportunity to attend the Family Medicine Congressional Conference in Washington, DC.
The energy in the room was palpable as family physicians from across the country discussed pressing issues, from prescription drug abuse to funding for Teaching Health Centers. We also heard a fascinating analysis of the presidential election, learned about new payment models under MACRA, and more.
The following day, we set out to meet with our Congressional representatives. For me, this meant meeting with representatives from the offices of Senator McCain and Senator Flake. It was exhilarating to walk into the Senate office buildings and discuss specific actions Congress could take to help curb prescription drug abuse and to ensure the sustainability of Teaching Health Centers. I came away with an added appreciation of the political process and with professional relationships that I hope to continue into the future.
I learned so much from this experience: always stand on the right on the DC Metro escalators, Washington is beautiful in the spring, and quiet reflection in front of the monuments never gets old. Most importantly, though, I learned that it’s never too early in your career to speak up and be involved. No matter who you are, you have valuable knowledge and experiences that can benefit your patients and your community as a whole. This was never more true than for family physicians.
Mandy Boltz, MD, MPH
Mandy graduated from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in May 2016 and will be begin as a resident in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix (formerly Banner University Medical Center – Phoenix) Family Medicine Residency this June.