Health Care Leaders Urge Medical Students to Choose and Advocate for Primary Care Specialties

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, July 28, 2016 – National health care leaders today used the largest national assembly of medical student and residents to urge future physicians to choose primary care specialties and advocate for primary care if they want to change the health care system and improve the health of all Americans.

The Health is Primary campaign event was moderated by author and journalist, T.R. Reid and held during the AAFP's National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students. The session included the premier of a poignant new music video by physician/rapper ZDoggMD (also known as Zubin Damania, MD) that describes his journey through medical school and the impact caring for patients has had on his life. The video highlights the importance of working together to produce a "Health Care 3.0" that values primary care and patients.

“We know that primary care is one of the best buys in health care. Unfortunately, too often students who start out planning to work in primary care end up going into a sub-speciality instead,” said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president and board chair of Family Medicine for America’s Health, which sponsors Health is Primary. “We urgently need to re-design our system to encourage students to select and stay with primary care specialties if we are going to meet the needs of society and improve the nation’s health care system. The good news is there are innovative programs emerging across the country – including here in the greater Kansas City area – to do just that,” said Dr. Stream.

The goal of the Health is Primary campaign is to tell the story of innovation and transformation in primary care in America. The evidence in support of primary care is indisputable:

  • In areas of the country where there are more primary care providers per person, death rates for cancer, heart disease, and stroke are lower and people are less likely to be hospitalized.
  • Urban and rural communities that have an adequate supply of primary care doctors experience lower infant mortality, higher birth weights, and immunization rates at or above national standards despite social disparities.
  • U.S. adults who have a primary care physician have 33 percent lower health care costs.

“We don’t do primary care right in this country. But through good primary care, you can treat or better yet prevent most costly illnesses. So fix primary care…and you fix medicine,” said Dr. Damania.

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About Health is Primary

Family Medicine for America's Health launched a national three-year campaign, Health is Primary, to raise awareness of the role of primary care in the health care system and demonstrate its value in delivering on the Triple Aim of better health, better care and lower costs. Health is Primary coincides with a five-year strategic initiative to transform family medicine to meet the changing needs of the health care system.

About Family Medicine for America’s Health

Family Medicine for America’s Health, the organization behind Health is Primary, is a collaboration between the nation’s eight leading family medicine organizations to drive continued improvement of the U.S. health care system and demonstrate the value of true primary care. We represent:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians;
  • American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation;
  • American Board of Family Medicine;
  • American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians;
  • Association of Departments of Family Medicine;
  • Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors
  • North American Primary Care Research Group; and
  • Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

Health is Primary Contact:
Ann Saybolt, annsaybolt@fmahealth.org / 703.969.2859
Kirsten Thistle, kirstenthistle@fmahealth.org / 301.802.4567