The present health care delivery model in the United States does not work; it perpetuates unequal access to care, favors treatment over prevention, and contributes to persistent health disparities and lack of insurance. The vast majority of those who suffer from preventable diseases and health disparities, and who are at greatest risk of not having insurance, are minorities (Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans) and those of lower socioeconomic status. Because the nation's poor are most affected by built-in inequities in the health care system and because they have little political power, policy makers have been able to ignore their responsibility to this group. Family medicine leaders have an opportunity to integrate community health science into their academic departments and throughout the specialty in a way that might improve health care for the underserved. The specialty could adapt existing structures to better educate and involve students, residents, and faculty in community health. Family medicine can also involve community practices and respond to community needs through practice based research networks and community based participatory research models. It may also be possible to coordinate the community activities of family medicine organizations to be more responsive to the health crisis of those in need. More emphasis on community health science is consistent with family medicine's roots in social reform, and its historical and philosophical commitment to the principle of uninhibited access to medical care for the underserved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Family Practice