A Boardman doctor has been named the national 2013 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians, a medical society representing more than 100,000 doctors nationwide.
Dr. Thomas E. Albani Jr., who has operated a private family practice in Canfield since 1990, was presented with the award Wednesday at an event in Philadelphia.
The award, just one on a long list of achievements for Dr. Albani, is awarded each year to one American family physician who provides patients with “compassionate and comprehensive care, and serves as a role model professionally and personally in his or her community,” according to a statement released by the AAFP.
In June, Dr. Albani received the 2012 Distinguished Physician award from the Mahoning County Medical Society, and in 2011, he was named Ohio Family Physician of the Year by the Ohio Association of Medicine.
The latter achievement led to his consideration at the national level, where he beat out 25 other family physicians across the country for the award.
“It’s a rare privilege and an opportunity to be able to get out the message of what family doctors are and what we do,” Dr. Albani said in a telephone interview. “We make friends, families and communities better. This country needs to stop focusing on the costs of health care and turn our attention toward the baseline message — we’re here to help people — and that’s the real privilege.”
Unlike other physicians, who specialize in treating one particular organ or disease, a family physician is trained to care for patients as a whole, regardless of age or sex, to assess the best course of treatment.
Procedural physicians that specialize in a specific field are garnering higher pay in today’s health care system, while family physicians in private practice are generally viewed to be on the decline and earning less.
But Dr. Albani said money should not be the focus, and he said the best part of his job is learning about people on all levels from the personal, to the mental and the physical.
“Money is not the goal, it’s a misconception people have about physicians,” he said. “The money part is only a spinoff. We worry about helping people get through their problems, and that’s the crux of what we do.”
Dr. Albani helped establish the Midlothian Free Health Clinic, where he serves as medical director, that helps provide free primary care to those who have no health insurance.
He also serves as president of the Mahoning County Medical Society and as chairman of the Primary Care Department at St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center, in addition to teaching at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown.
In 1981, Dr. Albani earned his medical degree from Ohio State University College of Medicine. After a seven-year stint in Dayton, he returned to practice medicine in Canfield to be closer to his family in Youngstown, where he was born and reared.
When asked where his most recent award ranks on his list of accomplishments, Dr. Albani replied with modesty.
“That’s like asking, ‘Who do you love better — your mother, sister or brother?’” he said. “This is beyond my wildest dreams, and to be recognized on a national level for doing what I love, I can assure you no one was more surprised than me.”
The doctor and his wife, Karen, have five children.