Meet MAFP President Deb Dittberner, MD, MBA

On July 1, 2021, Deb Dittberner, MD, MBA, became president of the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) for the 2021-2022-term.

Dittberner is a rural family doctor and chief medical officer of Alomere Health, a 127-bed, general medical and surgical hospital with a Level III trauma center, located in Alexandria, Minnesota. She is also a medical student preceptor for the University of Minnesota’s Rural Physician Associate Program and Rural Medical Scholars Program.

She has served in a variety of leadership roles, both in her health system and the MAFP, and appeared on Minnesota Public Radio and other news outlets sharing the perspective of rural primary care.

Dittberner has practiced family medicine for nearly 30 years and is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota Medical School and family medicine residency. She is passionate about population health and new models of health care.

We asked President Dittberner to share about the challenges facing our specialty and where the MAFP has room to grow.

Why did you get involved in the MAFP?

I have been active in the MAFP since I was a medical student. My advisor/mentor at the time, Pat Fontaine, MD, MS, encouraged me to get involved. I quickly realized that if you are passionate about something you need to “be the change.”   

How do you think the MAFP is of value to family docs?

The MAFP creates a network of family physicians, residents and students across the state (and nation through the American Academy of Family Physicians). Via this network, we discover the work that needs to be done. If it’s shaping Minnesota legislation on telehealth, offering opioid prescribing education or creating future virtual or in-person meetings for networking, the MAFP is here for you. 

Your voice is important, and your participation in the Academy is valued and encouraged. 

What are the challenges facing family medicine?

Health care is rapidly changing. We all feel it. 

Third party payers (including government payers) are leading health care into more and more value-based contracts and away from fee-for-service reimbursement.

Primary care is now under the spotlight as these changes occur. Family physicians are experts in primary care, and family physicians must be leaders and strong advocates during this health care transformation.

Your physician membership with the MAFP is vital as we help shape the direction of future care and reimbursement of our medical practices.

Where do you see the MAFP has room to grow?

We can’t just be leaders within our specialty of family medicine or clinical practice; we must be in leadership roles throughout all of medicine and health care. 

The future of how health care is delivered and reimbursed is being decided now. If we believe in the model of family medicine and that strong primary care is foundational, then we must lead.

We need to be in all places where health care decisions are being made and shaping the future of medicine.

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