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Benefits of having a family physician recognized this week

Chances are you grew up with a family physician who saw you as a toddler, while in grade school, perhaps as a teen or 20-something.

He or she might well have been the same doctor your parents went to, or who now treats your children.

But family physicians are more scarce these days, as specialization becomes more tempting to those going into medicine. They’re essential here in the Upper Peninsula, where a lower population and more rural practice can make doctors few and far between.

Now, in the midst of a pandemic, having someone you know and trust to turn to with medical questions is even more essential.

This is Family Medicine Week in Michigan, as recognized by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians.

The weeklong observance highlights family physicians’ dedication to providing comprehensive primary care to Michiganders across the state to help them maintain health and wellness, and to reduce costs to the health care system. Research shows that adults and children with a family physician as their regular source of care have lower annual costs of care, visit the doctor less, are prescribed fewer medications and report less difficulty accessing care.

“Primary care is the foundation of our health care system and so critical to promoting the health of individuals, families, and communities. Family medicine providers understand the importance of prevention and how to best approach health from a holistic viewpoint,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Visiting your family physician for regular check-ups can help you stay healthy and prevent illness. I am proud of how our family medicine physicians have stepped up during this pandemic to take care of their patients.”

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, eight out of 10 people are likely to rely on the advice of their personal primary care physician when deciding to get immunized. This makes family physicians key partners in helping Michigan reach its goal of vaccinating 70% or more of its residents age 16 and older against COVID-19.

The Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians collectively represent more than 5,000 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students statewide.

To line up a family physician, contact local health care providers.

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