Family physicians play crucial role in health care

Chances are you grew up seeing a Dr. Somebody, as a toddler, while in grade school, perhaps as a teen or 20-something.

He or she might well have been the same doctor your parents went to, or who now treats your children. Maybe has treated three, even four generations of your family.

But family physicians are becoming more scarce, as specialization becomes more tempting to those going into medicine. They’re essential here in the Upper Peninsula, where a lower population and more rural practice can make doctors few and far between.

This is Family Medicine Week in Michigan, as proclaimed by Gov. Rick Snyder, to recognize that “family medicine practices provide high-quality care and reduce costs to the health care system through leadership, collaboration and innovation; and … play a crucial role in ensuring the optimal health of families across the state.”

Family physicians, Snyder notes in the proclamation, have studied for a minimum of seven years in medical school and through residency and have received specialized training to provide primary care and medical treatment for the families of this state.

“This care is based on knowledge of the whole person in the context of the family and the community, and is not limited by age, sex, race, religion, or type of health problem,” the governor declares.

The week is in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, and Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians.

“A health care system based on a foundation of primary care holds the answers to many of the health and wellness challenges that we currently face,” Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS, said in 2017. “Having a family doctor is good for the health of individuals, families and communities, which is why we’re encouraging all residents to establish and maintain a relationship with a family physician.”

So take time this week to think of, if not thank, the family physician in your life, who has provided care for you and those close to you over the years.