Dr. Mott Blair gets "pinned" during a ceremony to induct him as president of the N.C. Academy of Family Physicians. Contributed photo
(Mar. 28, 2003)
The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, with a mission to promote family care in general and family medicine in particular, has hit the proverbial jackpot this year.
Two alumni and a medical student have taken top positions a top honor with the N.C. Academy of Family Physicians. The academy is the professional association of more than 2,500 family doctors, family practice residents and medical students and is the largest family practice organization in North Carolina.
Dr. Mott Blair, a family physician in Wallace, has been elected president of the academy. Christie Laming, a third-year ECU medical student, has been elected by her peers as student director. And Dr. Clark Gaither, a 1989 medical graduate, is the academy’s physician of the year.
Medical school alumni have been honored before, but never have so many been honored at the same time by the same organization. Combined with the American Academy of Family Physician Exemplary Teaching Award for a full-time faculty member that Dr. Janice Daugherty, associate professor of family medicine, received last fall, one could say that the Department of Family Medicine is on a roll.
The department was also recognized by the AAFP last year for having more than 25 percent of graduates enter the specialty of family medicine for three years running.
Dr. Dean Patton, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine, is proud of all of these accomplishments, especially the three most recent.
"It is no surprise to me that these three individuals hold key positions in the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians," he said. "It certainly speaks to their individual capabilities but also reflects on the commitment of the Brody School of Medicine to produce family physicians who are excellent in the way they care for their patients, their communities and their profession."
Family commitment to the profession
One would think that in times of lower reimbursements and higher overhead, a solo family practitioner in rural North Carolina would have enough to keep him busy. But Dr. Mott Blair of Wallace has been elected president of the NCAFP and relishes the responsibility that comes with it.
Challenges facing the group and its members are formable, said Blair, an ECU medical graduate, during his inaugural address in December and recently on the phone. The largest hurdle facing family physicians across the state today is reimbursement issues, he said.
"For primary care physicians, as managed care has moved in, reimbursements fell, but the overhead costs increased. That's squeezing us right now. To help remedy that, he said, "the biggest thing we're focusing on this year in our state is medical liability reform. What we are really concerned about is that as rates go up and become more expensive, it will have serious implications on the access to care for our patients."
Doctors in West Virginia and Nevada were so concerned about medical liability rates recently that they didn't see patients as a sign of protest. Other family physicians are curtailing their obstetrical care because of liability concerns, he said.
"Doctors in North Carolina don't foresee a walkout," Blair said. "What we want to protect is the loss of access for our patients. We're trying to be preventive so it doesn’t get to a point where you can’t get care."
The NCAFP also has some bright spots. "One victory we've seen this year is the reversal in the proposed Medicare reimbursement rate from a decrease to an increase of 1.4 percent. However, I don't think the Medicare issue has been completely addressed."
Blair sees patients in the same practice where his father, Dr. J. Seaborn Blair Jr., did for more than 50 years. He joined his father after completing in his residency in family medicine at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in 1990. He graduated from medical sc
Dr. Clark Gaither, an ECU medical graduate, is the driving force behind a mobile medical clinic in Wayne County. His efforts gained him recognition as NCAFP physician of the year. Photo by Cliff Hollis.
ECU medical student Christie Laming has been elected student director of the N.C. Academy of Family Physicians. Photo by Cliff Hollis