A week to recognize those who practice family medicine

Most families have a specific physician or nurse practitioner they’ve perhaps seen for generations.

Family medicine is a specialty practiced by physicians with extensive training to provide care for people of all ages, from birth through end of life. Practitioners are experts in treating a wide range of symptoms affecting the body from head to toe.

They’re essential here in the Upper Peninsula, where a lower population and more rural practice can make doctors few and far between.

But those who practice family medicine are becoming more scarce, leading to care shortages in some areas.

This is Family Medicine Week, as recognized by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians.

Family Medicine Week highlights family physicians’ dedication to providing comprehensive, coordinated primary care to residents across the state to protect and improve health and wellness, and reduce costs to the health care system. Research shows that adults and children who choose a family physician as their regular source of care have lower annual health costs, don’t visit the doctor as often, are prescribed fewer medications and report having less difficulty accessing care.

“Having a primary care provider like a family medicine physician is crucial to maintaining health,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Visiting your primary care physician for regular check-ups can help you stay healthy and prevent illness, and they are a trusted source of accurate information about and providers of immunizations, including the COVID-19 vaccine.”

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, eight of 10 people are likely to rely on the advice of their personal primary care physician when deciding to get immunized. This makes family physicians key partners in Michigan families getting vaccinated against the seasonal flu, COVID-19 and other vaccine-preventable diseases that cause illness and death.

Statewide, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians collectively represent more than 5,000 family physicians, family medicine resident physicians and medical students exploring a career in family medicine.

Together, they will host Michigan Family Medicine Advocacy Day in Lansing on Wednesday to discuss legislative and policy issues affecting access to care, the patient-physician relationship and the practice of family medicine in our state.

To learn more about Michigan Academy of Family Physicians, go to Mafp.com. For more about Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians, go to Maofp.org.


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