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Tuesday Nov 06, 2012

Family of Family Medicine Now Under One Roof in Washington

Family medicine has long had a presence in Washington. The AAFP, the AAFP's Robert Graham Center, the American Board of Family Medicine and the Council of Academic Family Medicine -- which represents the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, the North American Primary Care Research Group and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine -- all have had offices in our nation's capital.

Now, for the first time, you can find representatives of all those organizations under one roof.

The Academy and its sister organizations recently moved into a new location that not only brings us together but also brings us closer to the White House and Congress. These groups, which are so interconnected, now will be working together in the same place.

In this era of e-mail, texting and smartphones, communication has never been easier. But there still is something to be said for face-to-face meetings. If one of the family medicine organizations has a question about what the other is doing or needs input, staff can simply walk down the hall. Meetings will be easier to schedule. Communication will be enhanced, and our work will be more efficient.

I got a first-hand look at the new offices Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 when AAFP leaders were in Washington to meet with White House and congressional staff as well as other key stakeholders, for conversations about Medicare physician payment, workforce issues, veterans' health care and health research.

The AAFP already had close working relationships with the other family medicine organizations, but that might not have been clear to outsiders. It should be obvious now to anyone who walks through our doors.

And plenty of people did just that last week, including AAFP member Alma Littles, M.D., of Tallahassee, Fla., who is pictured with me here. Academy leaders and staff met with representatives from the AARP, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Bipartisan Policy Center in the new Washington AAFP board room. And representatives from CMS and other health care stakeholders attended our open house.

Advocacy has always been a key part of our mission, but having all our organizations represented in one location makes it clear that we mean business in Washington. It also illustrates the growing visibility and impact of family medicine on Capitol Hill and among federal agencies.

Reid Blackwelder, M.D., is President-elect of the AAFP.

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The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.