Once during medical school, Mega Millions had hit a record jackpot and a friend and I were discussing how we’d live if we won. He commented that he would do family medicine if he won the jackpot. We didn’t win the lottery and he ended up doing urology. Not because he has a particular fondness for the urinary system, but because he understands market forces and went towards a higher paying “more prestigious” specialty. Medical students are well aware, at least in general, of how our medical system favors specialties which thrive in fee-for-service and they respond accordingly. Primary care has been struggling for years to get fair, better reimbursement in the fee-for-service system without much success because the work we do in primary care for patients does not match a payment model which rewards doing things to patients.
Direct primary care has introduced a way which makes primary care sensible and finally fulfils the quadruple aim. Medical students and residents have noticed. DPC captured my attention at the 2017 DPC Summit when I was a 4th year medical student. Inspired by the likes of Brian Forrest, Josh, Umbehr, Julie Gunther, and others, I knew DPC was the path for me and I wanted to let more people know about the model. Back then very few people in the medical world even knew what DPC was. Over the last 3.5 years, I joined the push for resident and medical student awareness of the DPC model through organizations, residency programs, and medical schools. Nowadays, DPC education has taken a hold in medical schools and residencies across the country. I’ve even encountered students and residents at family med conferences and the interview trail telling me about their interest and asking if I’ve ever heard of the model so they can tell me more about it.
DPC may just be a practice model, but it’s driven by philosophies and values which have turned it into a movement. The growth in awareness and interest in even just the last three years has been astounding and I anticipate this growth to continue as more people learn about the model and see it in action. The interest has also paid off in a real world way as more residents start their own DPC practices right out of residency or sign on with DPC practices. These new practices will bring innovation into the community and continue to help reshape primary care and our healthcare system in a way which benefits patients and allows doctors to practice to the best of their abilities.