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Thoughts from Keynoting the Oklahoma State chapter of the American Osteopathic Association’s Annual Event


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Recently, a family medicine colleague, Elation customer, and DPC research collaborator, Dr Jonathan Bushman, let me know that he had been elected the new president of the Oklahoma State chapter of the American Osteopathic Association. As the incoming president, he was heavily involved in organizing their upcoming annual conference, and he (to my great surprise) asked if I would consider being the keynote speaker at their conference. The theme of the conference was going to be “What’s Next?” – and he wanted me to speak to the audience about the future of primary care. 

First, it’s important to note that I’ve been working almost entirely from home since before the pandemic started (except for my part-time patient care), and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I hadn’t attended a professional conference in person in years. I hadn’t had to socialize in person with other professionals, my public speaking skills were dusty and rusty, and I barely even remembered how to wear professional pants. As Jon and I talked about it, though, I knew it was a great opportunity and it didn’t take me long to say yes.

Jon asked me to come up with a title for my talk, well before I had any idea what I planned to talk about. In reflecting on the theme of the conference and what I know from the primary care advancement work I do at Elation, I realized that we really are at an inflection point in primary care today. There are more things happening and more people involved in the efforts to rescue primary care – and by extension, transform our failing heath care system – than I have ever witnessed in history. It really feels like primary care is HOT right now, and there is a revolution afoot! So I went out on a shaky limb and suggested to Jon, “How about ‘The Primary Care Revolution in America’?” 

Fast forward to the keynote moment of the event, and there I was, standing in front of a large group of both in-person and virtual osteopathic-trained physicians, a fish out of water (I’m an allopathic-trained physician), hoping I could convince them of said “revolution.” I talked about the current state of primary care.  I talked about the value of primary care to patients, payers, the health care system, and society. Then, I talked about payment innovation, delivery model innovation, technology innovation, and public and policy advocacy, all geared toward empowering primary care to do what only primary care can: improve the health of populations while driving down unnecessary health care costs. I worked hard to paint a picture that showed that primary care is innovating in remarkable ways and solving the biggest problems in health care – in fact, only primary care can solve these problems. I concluded by sharing some ideas about how they too could join the primary care revolution.

I don’t know how many people I convinced that day, but I know there were some, because they came to talk to me, requested to follow me on social media, and had lots of questions during the panel session which followed my talk (myself, Dr Bushman, and Dr Ronnie Martin). What a boost of inspiration to be in conversation with fellow physicians about primary care! I’m so glad I said yes.

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The week before the event, Jon texted to ask if I planned to be there for the rest of the conference. I was hoping to get some continuing education credits over the weekend, so I had planned to stay. He casually invited me to a semi-formal dinner Saturday evening, but wasn’t specific regarding the purpose of the event. I dragged out a little black dress that had been collecting dust in my closet for over two years. Only later did I discover that this event was actually Jon’s induction as the new president of the Osteopathic Association’s Oklahoma Chapter! It was indeed a privilege to be present for this momentous occasion in my friend’s professional life. A small town family doctor, innovating successfully in his direct primary care practice, serving his community in new and powerful ways, shining as a beacon of hope for many other family doctors, now installed as a key leader in his state and empowered to effect meaningful change on a much broader scale.

I came home from my trip feeling very fortunate to be welcomed into the osteopathic family, meet many Oklahoma physicians, talk about primary care, recruit them into the revolution, and celebrate my friend and family medicine colleague, Dr Jon Bushman. 

Primary care is hot, there is a revolution afoot, and we need everyone to join the movement! Are you ready? Check out these links to learn more about how to join us today:

Sara J. Pastoor, MD, MHA is Elation's Director of Primary Care Advancement and leader in primary care advocacy. Dr. Pastoor is a board certified and clinically active family medicine physician. Her experience as a primary care innovator spans a career in military medicine, academic medicine, private practice, and employer-sponsored delivery models. She received her MD from Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences and MHA from Trinity University.