Dr. Wanda Filer, President-Elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), made an appearance for a seven minute interview on the May 14, 2015 edition of The Doctor Oz Show. Yes, That Dr. Oz. By now, I don't have to name all the controversies that is associated with this guy. Why would a leader of a major physician organization choose to make an appearance here? Dr. Filer explains that to me in a podcast interview on the Mike Sevilla Radio Program Episode 335 that you can download here, or listen to it in the player above. In addition, Dr. Filer wrote an essay called "Face-to-Face with Dr. Oz: Benefits of Touting Family Medicine Outweigh Risks."
At the beginning of our podcast chat, Dr. Filer states that she has known Mehmet Oz before he was the nationally known "Dr Oz" when they were both doing local television. In this 2008 article, Dr. Filer was the emcee of a charity event in which Mehmet Oz was a guest. Fast forward to 2015, and Dr. Filer was being contacted by producers from "The Dr Oz Show" to be interviewed. As she was considering the request, Dr Filer describes in the podcast, that she was contacted personally by Dr. Oz to come on the show.
She told him during that phone call, "I need you to understand that many of our members, Family Physicians of this country, spend a lot of our time trying to 'undo' some of the messages that you deliver. And, they are not sure why I would want to do this." She was also concerned about product endorsements and potential other guests on the show. "We got agreements from them that they won't talk about any products during the show, and they gave us the opportunity to look at the entire lineup (of guests), and the even told me that what I do is a balance between entertainment and health education, and sometimes we tip too far"
The theme of the May 14, 2015 show had to do with Fear and how people should face their fear, including the Fear of seeing the doctor. Dr. Filer made three points during her seven minute segment about what to know when seeing your physician. The first point was to "Know Your Family History," especially about your first degree relatives. Dr. Filer's second point during the segment was about medications. "Not only bringing all your prescription medications to your visit, but also bringing any kind of nutritional supplements with you to your doctor's visit." Her final point was finding a physician who is your "usual point of care," namely a Family Physician.
So, why would Dr. Filer make an appearance on The Doctor Oz Show, given the controversy that it could create? During the podcast, Dr. Filer stated, "I have to be honest in that I also had mixed feelings. But, the part of me that understands the power of the media to get our message out would be a great opportunity. This is the number one daytime talk show with an audience of 2 million people every day. And, my suspicion is that many of that audience don't understand about the value of Family Medicine and Primary Care in this country. What a great opportunity to tell our story."
From my point of view, I also admit that when Dr. Filer first told me of this interview, my anxiety level went up, and I was concerned about what other people may say. In my opinion, she is taking a risk in going on this show. But, after watching this segment on television, and after recording this podcast, I'm convinced that sometimes you have to "think outside the box" to reach your goal, and this goal is to tell the Family Medicine and Primary Care story to as many people as you can. I support Dr. Filer in this effort, and I hope my friends and colleagues do as well. For those interested, I'll be on a Google Hangout tonight at 9pET talking about this and my thoughts on it.
In closing of the podcast, Dr. Filer stated, "I would ask people to watch the segment before rushing to an opinion (about my appearance there)." I agree with that. Have an open mind, watch the television segment, listen to this podcast, and read her words at the AAFP Leader Voices Blog, before making your final judgement. In addition, watch the video below which includes an educational segment by Dr. Filer including "What Is Family Medicine?" It takes tremendous courage to take action that is potentially controversial. I applaud Dr. Filer's leadership and all of us have a lot to learn from it.