As a member and outgoing president of the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG), Diane Harper, MD, MPH, MS, professor of Family Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan, has long promoted the power of research conducted by practicing family doctors. Her passionate advocacy for young family doctors to embrace both clinical work and research was part of her main mission during her recent tenure as NAPCRG president.
“At this stage in my career, my role is more about mentoring and it’s more about helping people realize that they can have the medical career and be a researcher,” she said. “With evidence that we create with research, we take that to Washington, D.C. and we get policy change.”
This advocacy work, she argues, is grounded in a deep care for patients: “It’s about, ‘How do you make life better for the patient?’”
Since its establishment in 1972, NAPCRG has become a community actively training medical students and young doctors on how to conduct vital family medicine and primary care research; providing continuing education and networking opportunities for those mid/senior-career researchers; and the opportunity to sustain professional ties among retired researchers. As part of its mission, members are committed to producing and disseminating new knowledge from all disciplines relevant to primary care.
In addition to elevating the role of physician researchers, Harper also worked to expand NAPCRG membership, with the belief that a more diverse member body would benefit the field. Throughout her tenure, Harper was actively involved in recruitment efforts including building relationships with family medicine departments across North America and inviting faculty to present their research at NAPCRG meetings.
“We are looking at research from a multidisciplinary perspective, from medical students to those engaged in PhD training, early-career researchers, mid-/senior-career researchers up to and including those that have retired. We have that depth of research experience,” she said.
Harper and her colleagues at NAPCRG are continuing these efforts past the end of her tenure as president, with Harper continuing her years of service to the organization as the past president on the organization’s executive committee. Recently launched efforts includes organizing a research training summit for family health officials and the establishment of the Science of Family Medicine Committee, which will continue to promote the importance of physician researchers.
“I think NAPCRG is just an explosive organization,” Harper said. “I’m very proud that I was the president. I am very proud of the career pathways that we will present to medical students, and I am very proud of our international pathways.”
U-M’s Department of Family Medicine researchers, many of whom are NAPCRG members, had a strong showing at the organization’s 50th Annual Conference, held last year in Phoenix. U-M’s researchers led three workshops, three oral presentations, and five poster presentations on a wide variety of topics relevant to primary care providers. Read more about Family Medicine's researchers at NAPCRG here.