Born the son of an Air Force general, Ben Barlow did not plan on following in his father’s military footsteps. Not only did he land in uniform, but he also went to medical school and ended up caring for Presidents Obama and Trump. Now, Barlow has just left his post as Senior White House Physician to become the new Chief Medical Officer of American Family Care (AFC), the nation’s leading provider of urgent care, occupational medicine and accessible primary care.
In his new role as Chief Medical Officer, Barlow is tasked with guiding AFC’s 600 physician network as they care for patients every day at the company’s 200 medical facilities. “The military training that I received in the Air Force is serving as a great foundation for my new role with AFC,” Barlow says. “We have nearly 140 franchise locations and 66 corporate-owned medical centers. Each day is a new challenge, whether it is guiding doctors through the ups and downs of flu season or answering franchisee questions about how to maximize staffing. I am here to be their sounding board and suggest solutions.”
Barlow acquired the skills to make quick, solid decisions while leading the emergency room at Langley Air Force Base, as well as through his duties as a White House physician. “It was my job to travel ahead of Presidents Obama and Trump to survey foreign travel destinations,” Barlow explained. “I had to make sure each location was equipped with the appropriate staff and technology to handle whatever medical emergency might pop up while the President was abroad.” Barlow has walked the halls of dozens of hospitals around the world, and as a result, he’s one of the few doctors around who has a first-hand perspective of how the U.S. ranks among global health care.
“The U.S. simply does health care better. Our training is better, our consistency of care is better,” Barlow says. “You really can’t judge a facility by its looks. Some of the nicer spots I toured just didn’t seem to be on the ball, because they did not have a sizable medical staff to keep things moving.” Barlow adds that when this happened, he had to make his own plan to deal with the decreased level of care.
Three years globetrotting with the commander in chief was enough for Barlow. He wanted to find something that kept him stateside — and AFC is a perfect match. “AFC is a large organization with national reach, I can influence hundreds of doctors every day, rather than just a handful at a private practice,” he says.
Barlow also recognized health care is changing, and urgent care is on the frontline of the movement. “I chose to shift from the White House to urgent care because AFC is making health care so much more accessible. We are not just treating patients, we are improving health care. By freeing overcrowded emergency rooms from patients who could easily be seen at our clinics, we are making a difference.”