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Dickey awarded for dedication and leadership in family medicine

American Academy of Family Physicians announced Nancy Dickey, MD, won the prestigious John G. Walsh Award
A portrait of Nancy Dickey, MD

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) awarded Nancy Dickey, MD, president emeritus of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center, executive director of the A&M Rural and Community Health Institute (ARCHI), the highest honor presented by the organization, the John G. Walsh Award for Lifetime Contributions to Family Medicine.

The award honors those individuals whose dedication and effective leadership has furthered the development of family medicine. According to the AAFP website, the award recognizes long-term dedication, rather than a single significant contribution. Furthermore, the award is not given every year, but only when the AAFP Board of Directors believes someone is truly deserving.

“I am immensely honored and thankful to AAFP for this recognition,” Dickey said. “Over the years, I have dedicated my career to improving the health of our communities. From helping found the Texas A&M Family Medicine Residency program at the College of Medicine to serving as the president of the Health Science Center for more than 10 years, my goal has always been to treat people through family medicine and to advance the specialty across the nation. Family medicine and primary care medicine should be the foundation of health care access and coordination, so advancing the specialty is important to the country and to patients across the nation.”

Dickey also served as the first female president of the American Medical Association (AMA) and was named to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame after being elected by the National Academy of Medicine.

During her tenure as president of the Health Science Center, Dickey established ARCHI, which aims to improve access to care and reduce disparities in health status and outcomes by improving the quality and safety of health care in rural areas. In other words, the institute creates programs, policies and projects that help small hospitals and rural communities keep their hospitals open and at a reasonable price. ARCHI investigates how small, rural towns can enter the 21st century in regards to medicine. Eventually, the institute is creating a toolkit for rural hospitals and communities that can help them make decisions, address challenges and transition as technology advances.

However, these solutions and suggestions are not easily found. “Transportation and internet access are major issues in health care access. In Texas, the problem might have to do with distance, while in northern states it may be due to snow, but some of the same solutions could apply to both,” Dickey said. “We can help create policy at the national level when we start to see trends. In this way, the institute and its programs give us a much more powerful voice for some of the needs of rural health care and create better opportunities to solve them.”

Dickey considers herself fortunate. “From my patients and coworkers to my roles in leadership, I have been extremely lucky,” Dickey said. “Hopefully, we can continue creating change and improving community health, one small town at a time.”

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