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Building the Road to Our Bright Horizon

24 Mar 2022 4:51 PM | DPC Alliance

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I’m sitting in the cafeteria of a tiny 2A High School in Oskaloosa, Kansas. This cafeteria can’t seat more than 40 students, and that would be packed. I am at my daughter’s volleyball tournament, waiting for the next game, and figured I’d use this exceedingly rare free time to sit down and write my long-overdue first blog post as the newly-elected DPCA president.

The setting is appropriate: As I sit here in this 18 x 40 foot cafeteria just outside the gym of this small rural school, I am currently on-duty. Caring, in one way or another, for over 1,400 patients in my small-corner of the rural Kansas countryside, and representing hundreds of doctors (and growing!) from coast-to-coast who have freed themselves from the tyranny of the unholy American medical system that would dare treat patients and physicians not as human beings to be served, but as commodities to be bought, sold, and traded in an endless pursuit of money from equally greedy third parties. But like them, I am no longer one of those commodities. I will not subserviently bow to the ever-changing will of such parasites. Apart from my patients, I have no boss. I’m getting enough sleep (usually). Like I’m doing today, I get to watch (even coach!) my kids’ ball games, help with homework and a dozen other things I could never do when working day and night inside the system. I love my job, I treasure my extended family of rebel DPC docs coast to coast, and I have a smile on my face.

It’s a bit cliché, but I suppose my “first presidential blog post” should feature my vision for DPC and my vision for the DPCA. But that’s easy, because I am walking a trail that was blazed by pioneers with tremendous work ethic, determination, vision, and sheer force of will. They didn’t just blaze the trail, they practically paved it.

Ryan Neuhofel, DO is the "George Washington" of the DPCA. Without his tireless work in the first 2 years of the DPCA, none of this would be here. I was on the board from day 1 and I’m here to testify to his tireless efforts. Julie Gunther, MD took the helm 2 years ago and was handed the keys right as COVID arrived, and she had the horrible job of figuring out how in the world we could continue to meet and help in-system docs who were drowning, but without DPC conferences at which to do so.

Story after story will attest to the value of DPC conferences. Formerly suffering doctors who felt trapped in very dark places would attend a conference where they saw a light and an extended helping hand. The DPCA wants to be that light-bearing hand, but without conferences, how could we help these docs?

Dr. Gunther came up with the answer and developed the concept, curriculum, and complicated organizational logistics of pulling off numerous DPCA Mastermind Weekends, every one of them a huge success. Her mastermind conference legacy will continue, and plans are looking great for many Mastermind weekends this year, under the excellent organization and leadership of Drs. Kissi Blackwell and Clodagh Ryan.

Numerous other DPC Physician-entrepreneurs helped Ryan and Julie pave this road, I couldn’t possibly list them all here, but Drs. Doug Farrago, Jack Forbush, Amy Walsh, Allison Edwards, Tiffany Leonard, Shane Purcell, Kissi Blackwell, and Mike Ciampi, and so many others all have volunteered huge amounts of their valuable time growing the DPCA (and the DPC movement in general!).

This road leads to a bright horizon, so that’s where I’m headed.

If I pick up where my rock star predecessors left off, I'd say that the next step is to more formally embrace young doctors. I have a goal to build a robust Residents and Medical Students (“RaMS”) department within the DPCA, where we can stockpile and make available the tools and resources to help our members assist young idealistic aspiring primary care physicians to find their way into DPC. We need to be in med schools frequently.

DPC physicians wear a smile that communicates ownership of something rare in medicine: HOPE. The students yearn to know where we get our hope. The development of the RaMS department is already underway under the leadership of Drs.Kenneth Qiu and Jeff Davenport.

I’m happy to report that one of my other goals has already been met, and that is for the DPCA to assume responsibility for organizing the faculty and content for the country’s premier DPC conference, the DPC Summit.

The DPCA has partnered with the AAFP, ACOFP, and FMEC for the last few years in helping plan and pull off the Summit. Because of our membership’s experience and expertise, the DPCA is in a unique position among the co-hosts to singularly focus on building a DPC-relevant agenda that will provide the biggest benefit for the largest number of registrants.

For this year’s summit, not only did the DPCA build the entire agenda with 50 faculty, we also have achieved my secondary summit-related goal, which is adding a third educational track, something for “veteran” DPC docs rather than the “101 and 201” practice-management content that the Summit is known for. So this July, the Summit will feature a full-conference-length 3rd “301” track that is all DPC-relevant CME for established DPC docs who might not necessarily need further practice management education at this point in their DPC practices. The DPC Summit now has content for everybody, those learning, those starting, those who just started, and the veterans.

I am also pleased to announce that after being held virtually in ‘20 and ‘21, the 2022 DPC Summit is planned to be held live, July 15-17, in Kansas City. Of course plans can change, but currently, things are looking good for a fantastic live conference. More exciting details will be available soon, and I am PUMPED! I can hardly wait to see you all there.

Ok, this has been long enough. I’ll call it good. I’m not going to commit to any kind of regular blog posts; we all have work to do, and you probably don’t want to read a bunch of my diatribes any more than I want to write them.

But please be assured that the Board of Directors and I are here building this organization, blessed to have the opportunity to serve you and ultimately, our patients.

Vance Lassey, MD 

The DPC Alliance is a Maine based nonprofit membership association.

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