Celebrating 70 Years of the OAFP

Message From the Chair

05/04/17  Portland, Ore.


By Jennifer DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil., OHSU Family Medicine Chair

This spring, the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP), celebrated its 70th anniversary at their annual conference in Sunriver, Oregon.

For the seventh year in a row, the conference kicked off with a gathering of Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) researchers, community leaders, and primary care teams. Former Governor and current chair of the Center for Evidence Based Policy at OHSU, John Kitzhaber, M.D., delivered ORPRN's keynote lecture. In his talk, Dr. Kitzhaber charged physicians with carrying on the progress already made in Oregon, and to continue striving for more accessible and affordable care. Dr. Kitzhaber's keynote was followed by presentations from primary care teams across the state, including presentations of ORPRN's latest research.

A large group of attendees gathered at the end of the day for dinner and conversation. It was fantastic to share this day with colleagues, including students and residents who were eager to meet new mentors and soak in the wisdom of their future colleagues. Everyone basked in the camaraderie and incredible Sunriver views.

As dinner wrapped up, guitars and other musical instruments began to appear and pull listeners to the fireplace. Led by Paul Blackburn, (Mayor of Hood River and husband of OAFP member Kristen Dillon), Drs. Liz Powers, Gary Plant, Ruth Chang and other talented OAFP musicians, we were all singing and dancing together. What a wonderful way to spend our first evening together! 

The energy continued into the next day, with a discussion of national practice and policy issues, led by our invited guests ("honorary OAFP members!") from Washington D.C. (Andrew Bazemore, M.D.) and Cleveland, OH (Kurt Stange, M.D.). Highlights included Dr. Stange's presentation of how practice-based research has transformed our understanding of primary care, including his team's work on the paradox of primary care, (1, 2) and Dr. Bazemore's overview of the contributions primary care makes to achieving the quadruple aim (3). Both presenters featured the foundational work done by Barbara Starfield (4, 5, 6). I had the pleasure of joining our esteemed guests in bringing the discussion to Oregon, and highlighting work being done in our Coordinated Care Organizations and the OHA-PSU study that concluded that for every $1 invested in primary care, the healthcare system can save $13. From there, the theme of the day was how we as primary care physicians can offer better access to care using evidence-based methods.

To round off a day of enlightening discussion, Rick Wopat, M.D. led a record-breaking auction, bringing in $34,000 that will go directly to medical student and resident travel scholarships. Bidders left with goods ranging from delicious pies made with love by Mary Lundy, to a hand-built table by Scott Fields, M.D.

Saturday morning's theme was policy reform. OAFP lobbyists, Doug and Sam Barber, presented upcoming bills, and Oregon Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, M.D., dialed in digitally to talk about legislative issues and to share her work in changing laws that impact Oregon's health. Shortly after this session, we saw SB 934 pass the Oregon Senate by a vote of 29-0! SB934 requires insurance companies, coordinated care organizations and the public employee and Oregon educator benefits board to invest at least 12 percent of premiums on primary care by 2023.

At lunch, OHSU medical students, Rita Aulie and Bryan Wu, were honored with The Lundy Award, established in 2000 to honor Mary Gonzales Lundy, OAFP's former executive director. The title, Family Medicine Doctor of the Year, went to OAFP's president, Dan Paulson, M.D., a well-deserved honor!

As always, the OAFP conference was an opportunity to re-energize, inspire, learn, and come together to share our passion. This conference is such an inspirational event that facilitates engagement and conversation among students, residents, and our large network of volunteer faculty across the state; it is a magical time to see lifelong relationships evolve. Just this year, Dr. Wopat informed us that his new practice partner would be the young doctor he met as a third year medical student. What a wonderful example of the power of our amazing network of family medicine teachers and mentors. Thank you!

1.      Stange KC. The paradox of the parts and the whole in understanding and improving general practice. Int J Qual Health Care, 2002;14(4):267-268.

2.      Stange KC. The paradox of primary care. Ann. Fam. Med. 2009;7(4):100-103

3.      Phillips, R. L., &Bazemore, A. W. (2010). Primary Care And Why It Matters For U.S. Health System Reform. Health Affairs, 29(5), 806-810. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0020Starfield B. Primary Care. Balancing health needs, services, and technology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

4.      Macinko J, Starfield B, Shi L. Quantifying the health benefits of primary care physician supply in the United States. Int J Health Serv. 2007;37:111-26.

5.      Starfield B, Shi LY, Macinko J. Contribution of primary care to health systems and health. Milbank Q. 2005;83(3):457-502