On Monday, January 27, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP) hosted their annual Family Medicine Advocacy Day in Olympia, WA. More than 80 WAFP members visited Olympia’s Capitol Campus to advocate for the importance of family medicine.
“It was neat to interact with doctors, residents, and students who were all so passionate about healthcare and about making small changes,” said second-year PNWU medical student Annika Lavoie, who also serves as the president of PNWU’s Family Medicine Interest Group, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians’ (ACOFP) student chapter president, PNWU OB/GYN Club secretary and the National Liaison for the Association of Women Surgeons.
Lavoie was selected to represent all medical students from the state of Washington, joining Dr. Russell Maier, PNWU Physician Advisor to the Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and President of WAFP, and Dr. Tony Butruille, Chair of the WAFP Primary Care Investment Task Force, to testify before the Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee in support of Senate Bill 6413, WAFP’s bill establishing the Primary Care Collaborative.
“I essentially shared my story,” explained Lavoie, “how I grew up in a poor family without access to a doctor; how when I had a cancer scare and really needed a doctor, I couldn’t see one for four months; how I worked at a women’s crisis shelter and felt helpless for the lack of resources we had. I shared my vision for my ideal practice someday: I want to work in a clinic where I have the time to listen to the human being in front of me and treat them not as a patient but as a person. I want to work in a clinic with a team of health professionals where I can send my patient right next door to see a behavioral health specialist or social worker.”
To kick off Family Medicine Advocacy Day, the WAFP also hosted a Student and Resident Retreat in the days leading up to the event. PNWU had the largest representation at the retreat, with more than 30 osteopathic medical students in attendance — the most in the university’s history. Featured retreat clinics included Point of Care Ultrasound, Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy, Working in Partnership with American Indian Communities, Suboxone Training, and Trauma Informed Primary Care, and more.
“I believe that everyone deserves a primary care physician,” said Lavoie. "I ultimately want to work in a state that prioritizes those values, so I advocated for the Primary Care Collaborative to invest in the future of myself, other medical students and, ultimately, our future patients.”