MAFP President Brings Diverse Perspectives

Q&A with Dr. Mark Hamed

Reprinted from Michigan Family Physician, Fall 2020 edition

September 10, 2020Mark Hamed, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAFP brings a wealth of experience to his role as 2020-2021 MAFP president. Through his current professional positions, which are many, he combines family medicine, emergency medicine, academic medicine, and public health.

For the past nine years, Dr. Hamed has served as medical director of the Departments of Emergency and Hospital Medicine at McKenzie Health System in Sandusky—a rural community located in Michigan’s Thumb. He is also medical director of health departments in eight rural northeast Michigan communities—Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Tuscola, and District Health Department #2 (Alcona, Iosco, Ogemaw, and Oscoda counties)—a senior staff physician and faculty at Henry Ford Health System/Wayne State University’s residency program, and associate clinical instructor at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Central Michigan College of Medicine.

As Dr. Hamed prepared for his presidential induction at the virtual MAFP Annual Meeting on Aug. 8, Michigan Family Physician had the opportunity to learn what inspires him, what he sees as the most pressing challenges facing the specialty, and his vision for the future of family medicine.

Why did you choose to become a family physician?

I enjoy being able to develop a level of trust and continuity of care with patients of all ages. As a medical student, I quickly recognized the versatility of family medicine and the ability to tailor one’s practice to meet professional goals and lifestyle choices.

With that being said, I always knew I wanted to practice outpatient clinical medicine along with inpatient and emergency medicine. My medical student core clerkship family medicine rotation at Synergy Health in Saginaw, with Dr. Edward Jackson, really solidified my decision to pursue family medicine. My residency training at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit gave me excellent preparation for practicing medicine in all of those settings.

Here’s a pretty cool related fact. When I was growing up in Metro Detroit, my dad and uncle owned a supermarket on Fort Street in the mid-1980s that was next door to the Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) Center—a federally qualified health center. During summer vacation from school, I offered to “work” as a grocery bagger (I refused to take money from my dad and insisted on being paid in candy and chips). My aunt would pick me up from work to take me home. On a few of those days, she took me with her to appointments at the CHASS Center. Dr. Susan Schooley was my aunt’s physician at the time, and I remember how grateful my aunt was to have such a skilled and caring physician. Fast forward 15 years, when I was doing my residency at Henry Ford Health System, and the physician-in-charge of my continuity clinic at the Detroit East Clinic was the one and only Dr. Schooley! I have been truly blessed to have such positive influences that helped me choose family medicine as my career.

What compelled you to join the Academy in 2011, and how have you benefited from your membership and being actively engaged?

I was completing my family medicine training in 2011 and enjoying what MAFP was doing for residents. So, I decided to join, after consulting with my senior family medicine staff at Henry Ford, including Dr. Jackson and the late Dr. Angelo Patsalis. Both were previous MAFP presidents.

MAFP is extremely valuable in ensuring that family physicians have the tools necessary to continue being family physicians. It has always advanced the goals of protecting the physician-patient relationship, removing barriers to maintaining that relationship, and ensuring the efficiency and stability of family medicine practices. I have found the timely information in MAFP emails and publications absolutely critical to staying up-to-date on the latest news affecting my profession.

What do you say to students, residents, and physicians of all practice types and years in the profession who want to get involved in the Academy?

It is absolutely important, probably more now than ever before, to get involved! Every voice counts and is appreciated. Your Academy is committed to understanding the needs of our members of all practice types in order to provide the tools and advocacy needed to practice medicine as efficiently as possible, and to enable family physicians to maximize their financial security as best as possible. The family medicine specialty is more relevant than ever, and we must work to collectively ensure its survival and give it the prominence it deserves. To learn about opportunities for getting involved, visit mafp.com/get-involved.

What are the top challenges facing family physicians today and how can MAFP help address them?

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the outpatient practice of family medicine. Practices have been forced to close or dramatically reduce hours, as fears of COVID-19 exposure has resulted in decreased volume. This has directly affected the management of acute and chronic illnesses.

Family medicine physicians who practice in emergency departments and inpatient and OB settings have especially faced periods of limited personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing challenges. Family physicians who practice public health are dealing with COVID-19 testing limitations, business and school reopening guidance, and battling misinformation about the virus and pandemic.

MAFP will continue working to guide family physicians through this difficult time to ensure their practices remain open and their patients get the care they need. Family physicians will continue being on the cutting edge, providing care when, where, and how patients need it. The swift transition to telemedicine is just one example of how family physicians answer the call for innovation.

Reimbursement is also critical. MAFP is a steadfast advocate for appropriate reimbursement for family medicine physicians that is based on the value and efficiency of the care they provide.

A third top challenge is ensuring patients have access to quality, equitable healthcare. There needs to remain coordination of care in a team-based approach, with legitimate members of the medical team, and at the same time safeguarding Michigan residents from harm from unlicensed groups such as naturopaths, as they attempt to get their foot in Michigan’s medical door under the guise of primary care.

As someone who is passionate about growing the next generation of family physicians, how can we attract more students into family medicine?

It is essential that students realize family medicine is an important and very relevant specialty. Medical students graduate with a high debt load, so they need to see their Academy will always advocate for the payment family medicine physicians deserve. We must show that family medicine is a value-focused and efficient specialty that provides the opportunity to tailor a practice as one desires.

We need to increase students’ awareness that being a family physician allows them to practice outpatient medicine, emergency medicine, inpatient medicine, obstetrics, public health, addiction medicine, among other areas of focus that interest them. Did you know that almost half of Michigan’s public health medical directors are family physicians? How cool is that!

We need seasoned family physicians to continue paving the way for the next generation, seeking leadership positions on hospital credentialing boards and member associations to ensure that entrance barriers are removed for family medicine- trained physicians who have demonstrated competence and quality.

What do you most enjoy about being a family physician today?

I enjoy the ability to make a positive change for patients in multiple areas of the healthcare environment. I enjoy the ability to manage acute and chronic conditions in an outpatient setting.

I enjoy practicing emergency medicine and inpatient medicine in rural Michigan, where I serve as medical director.

I feel proud to say that a family medicine-trained physician developed Michigan’s first oxy-free emergency department before the opioid crisis was even acknowledged as an “epidemic,” led the emergency department to be the first fully accredited Level IV Trauma ED in Michigan, the first rural Michigan ED to achieve Acute Stroke Ready accreditation, and the first to achieve Acute Heart Attack certification.

I am the associate medical director of a robust rural county EMS service and enjoy being able to develop protocols to ensure excellence in pre-hospital care.