Joyce Copeland, M.D.: I Treat People, Not Disease

Friday, June 30, 2017

Joyce Copeland, M.D.
Joyce Copeland, M.D.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has a poster that displays quotes by family doctors to demonstrate the characteristics that make us proud to be a family physician.  It starts with “I treat people, not disease.” This is the philosophy we all subscribe to. It gives us the focus to look beyond the microbe, the molecule, and the metabolic disruption. We are the people specialists. This will always be true.

The next line on the poster is “I build community, I step up. I answer the call.” “I am a leader.” Farther down the list is “I ask hard questions and push for reform. I challenge boundaries, systems, government.” “I am willing to fight for what’s right.” This aspect of family medicine has never been more important than it is today.

These values are incorporated in the Family Medicine Milestone Project. This document provides a framework for evaluation of physician competency. The milestones include:

  • PC-3 “Partners with the patient, family, and community to improve health through disease prevention and health promotion.”
  • SBP-3 “Advocates for individual and community health.” This parameter includes collaborating with other practices, public health, and community based organizations to educate the public, guide policies, and implement and evaluate community initiatives. Seeks to improve the health care systems in which he or she practices.”

We are about to see another class move into the world as the family doctors of the future. They have had the opportunity to engage with their community, state and nation as they completed their Duke residency.

They have been looking for ways to improve address the education needs of prenatal patients and to analyze the impact of CenteringPregnancy® on breastfeeding.

They have worked to help develop tools to give clinicians access to data about the resources and challenges our patients face down to the neighborhood level.

They have formed a team to develop a medical home for the LBGTQ population at Duke Family Medicine Center in collaboration with other disciplines in partnership with community organizations.

They all spend part of their clinical training in community-based settings.

They have marched, advocated, joined, collaborated and participated to address the social determinants and inequities that impact our population.

These are the passions that they brought to Duke. Duke helped fashion them into outstanding physicians who will provide first-rate care that will not be confined to the clinic walls.

 “I serve the underserved. I make a difference in the clinic, in the boardroom, in DC.  I am family medicine. I don’t walk away. I never stop.” 

Or in the words of our beloved graduate, Maureen Murphy, a woman who has talked the talk and walked the walk:  “’Family physician’ because ‘freakin’ awesome’ is not an official job title.”

Congratulations to our graduates

Our newest class of graduates was honored at a reception on June 17. Their future plans include:

  • Preyanka Makadia, DO: Lincoln Community Health Center, Durham
  • Vanessa Solomon, DO: Kaiser Permanente, West Los Angeles
  • Tiffany Covas, MD, MPH: TBD
  • Samantha Eksir, MD: Chapel Hill Primary Care, Chapel Hill

Graduating Residents