As might have become amply evident at this point, this blog is not following the path its name implied. When I started writing here, way back when, I was hoping to discuss issues surrounding health care in underserved and marginalized communities. However, with health care reform last year and early this year, as well as many opportunities to comment on issues of the day, my plans have been diverted.
I still hope to discuss issues surrounding underserved communities and health care, but it will evidently be through a broader, health care reform perspective. I think this is still relevant, considering that health care reform will change the landscape for health care in and for marginalized parts of the US, but I wanted to bring this out in the open in case the blog name/title deceives.
Meanwhile, my professional situation has changed somewhat. Rather than working full-time in Southside Richmond, I am now splitting time between that community practice and the family medicine faculty practice at the medical center. This change will hopefully be a positive move: I'll be more involved in teaching, can start thinking more about research ideas, and can be a resource to students who might have interest in family medicine as a career. The kicker, though, is that I will not be working as often with underserved or uninsured patients. The faculty practice usually does not work with the hospital's patient assistance program. The department has been very generous, and has made it such that any patient I was already seeing who has coverage through the patient assistance program will be able to continue seeing me, but I won't be taking new patients covered through that program. As a balance, I will be helping staff a medical and pharmacy student teaching clinic at a free clinic on Southside.
Although I am excited about this, I feel a little conflicted: I have talked the talk about the need for docs to work with patients who lack access to care that I feel self-conscious about walking the walk to a different practice site. I believe that working with the free clinic and with the largely Spanish-speaking, mostly Medicaid-covered community on Southside will continue to drive me as my mission. But it will take time to adjust.
This family medicine department is my home department: this is the medical school from which I graduated, and the department is the one with which my residency was affiliated. I feel very welcome here, and have found many kindred spirits. So I move on, sort of, but I also settle in. But I will always keep working to do what I think is right for patients: both those I directly care for, and for what I perceive as the greater good.