In his 1998 best seller “Who Moved My Cheese?”, Dr. Steven Johnson tells the parable of two mice and two “littlepeople” and how they deal with unexpected change. Dr. Johnson’s book shows us the clear difference between lamenting about change versus being proactive about it. In a moment of self-reflection during the story, one of the characters writes “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?” on the wall and after some thinking, begins his venture for new cheese. From a medical student’s perspective, the first ever All Member Advocacy Meeting felt like what physicians would do if they weren’t afraid. It was fitting then, that one of the iconic moments from the AMAM was CAFP President Dr. Mark Dressner holding up a piece of cheese while proclaiming that CAFP, and family medicine, had reached its “hands on the cheese” moment.
A whirlwind of energy descended upon our state’s capitol. The AMAM included more than 100 attendees learning how to advocate for our ability to deliver the best possible medical care to patients. Like most 2nd year students, my head had been stuck in the books for the past two years and the AMAM was a much-needed shot in the arm. I came to medical school with ambitions of making a difference in people’s lives and after countless PowerPoint lectures and multiple choice exams, the AMAM reminded me why I wanted to become a physician in the first place. Speaker after speaker extolled the value of showing up and being at the discussion table. Otherwise, we and our patients faced being on the menu instead.
The weekend concluded with CAFP lobby day on Monday, where 56 attendees took to the Capitol and met with legislators to discuss primary care residency support and proposed cuts to Medi-Cal. Thankfully, I was paired with advocacy veteran Dr. Kevin Rossi and we brought a two-sided approach to our meetings in the offices of Assemblymember Chris Holden and Senator Carol Lui. Their staffs were receptive to our lobbying efforts and we’ve since connected them with further CAFP information from the CAFP in order to support an investment in primary care residencies. Passage of a bill such as AB 2458 (Bonilla) would produce more primary care physicians for California, a crucial need considering the incoming wave of insurance enrollees with the Affordable Care Act.
I’d like to thank the Los Angeles CAFP chapter for funding me and other WesternU COMP students to come to a riveting weekend. We’re all thrilled to have our “hands on the cheese” during such a pivotal time in health care.