“Time Will Tell”: the Proceedings of the 26th National Conference – Introductory Comments, Monday April 13, 2015

Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Lee Burnett, DO, FAAFP

We gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of the Charles Q. North, MD of the University of New Mexico Department of Family and Community Medicine for his support of the transcription and editing of this section of the Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth National Conference:


he following transcription is of the first plenary session of the 26th National Conference on Primary Health Care Access, held April 13, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County. 

William Burnett, Coordinator, The National Conferences on Primary Health Care Access [Mr Burnett is a Senior Fellow of the National Conferences]: Good morning! Welcome to the 26th National Conference in Primary Healthcare Access. I’m here to introduce Doctor William Norcross of the University of California, San Diego, who gave the closing statement of the 25th National Conference in San Francisco, summarizing the conference themes..

Over the last decade or so we have had an unbroken tradition that the person who concludes one conference opens the subsequent conference. I’d like to have Dr Norcross take the stand.

William A. Norcross, MD; University of California, San Diego
William A. Norcross, MD; University of California, San Diego

William Norcross, MD, University of California, San Diego [Doctor Norcross is a Fellow of the National Conferences]: Thanks Bill. So I’ve known for a while that I would be giving the first talk. Of course I was very proud to be given that honor. I’ve been working on this presentation for months and months.

Finally the program came out and I saw that I was given ten minutes. Knowing how these things go after the breakfast sessions, I thought that, that might easily be subtracted down to five minutes as we all made our way in from the breakfast room and, I’m not disappointed.

I do have a few things that I want to say. First, welcome to all of you.

I wanted some hints from Bill Burnett about how I could make something useful out of 10 minutes. He said look at last year’s program and see if you could summarize that. Well you’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t know if you’ve looked at last year’s program, but you couldn’t summarize one talk in 10 minutes. It was really a terrific program.

So I went back and looked through all of the programs; and I just had a couple of observations to make. One is that Bill and Nancy Burnett have done tremendous work on this program year after year – putting it together, designing it in a way that I call purposeful diversity.

We hear the word diversity in the news all the time. Most of the time, in my opinion, It’s something that happens passively. But with these meetings, it’s purposefully crafted into every meeting and diversity of gender, race, training, everything that you could possibly think of. Occasionally, even a Republican is in the audience; which is, where I come from, a real counter-culture shock. So I’d like to thank Nancy and Bill.

The other amazing thing is that every word of every one of these conferences, for a quarter century or so, has been recorded, and is safe for all eternity.

Unlike the works of Shakespeare, or the writings of James Madison which were thought to have been consumed in the sacking of Washington by the British during the War of 1812, the writings of this great group of people will go on for eternity and be a rich source of knowledge, and inspiration, and quite likely, I hope, articles to come throughout the years.

I wanted to just pick up on one thing, of the many things that were said last year, in John Geyman’s talk about Gayle Stephens, just teasing out one or two sentences.

He devoted some time to the X’s and O’s people – the bean counters who were dominating American medicine at the primary care level. And that, I just want to say, coming from my clinic, the team I work on at UC San Diego in family medicine is something I worry about all the time.

It not only causes burnout, but I find that many of the junior faculty are developing an identity around “RVUs” and “visits” and regard themselves as “good physicians” and “productive physicians” based on their productivity as calculated by their handlers, the bean counters.

They are losing sight of what all of us in the room consider the true values of family medicine and the reasons that we went into family medicine.

Where I work, I am the senior most person. One thing I’ve learned is I have to take a greater role in reminding and inspiring my colleagues about what family medicine is really all about. And I’d like to see that be a point that’s talked about more in these meetings.

This section is followed by: “Time Will Tell”: the Proceedings of the 26th National Conference – “Issues in the Training of Primary Care Physicians (Part One, Henderson)”, Monday April 13, 2015


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