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Tuesday Nov 08, 2016

You can drive change in Washington; here's how

Happy Election Day!  

I hope each of you have voted today. If you have not, I urge you to do so before the polls close. Engaging in our political process is both a right and privilege, and I hope that each of you will exercise your civic duty of participating in our electoral process. Then, if you are like me, you can spend the rest of the night staring at your television, computer and smart-phone -- all at the same time!

At some point tonight, the United States of America will elect its 45th President. The announcement of a projected winner of the presidential election will set in motion a series of activities aimed at transitioning from the Obama Administration to the administration of the president-elect, which will formally occur on Jan. 20.

The announcement also will set in motion a series of activities at the AAFP as we initiate our transition to the new administration. Tomorrow, the AAFP will send a communication to the president-elect outlining a set of policy priorities that we will advance on behalf of family physicians and patients. It will also state our intentions to work with the new president-elect and his or her administration during the course of the next four years to advance policies that increase access to care and improve our health care system.  

Prior to Inauguration Day, the AAFP will meet with professional staff representing the president-elect to share our priorities and explore opportunities for the AAFP to work with the new administration. Additionally, we will be identifying and advancing the names of family physicians interested in serving in various positions within the administration.  

Regardless of who wins tonight, the federal government will undergo a change in leadership. Thousands of new staff will occupy positions being vacated by the Obama Administration. This turnover is extraordinary in scope, but I can promise you that the AAFP will be there to advance the interests of family medicine.

Family Physician Action Network
"One person can make a difference, and everyone should try." – John F. Kennedy

This simple, yet impactful statement from President Kennedy is truly the motivating quote that describes the importance of advocacy and being an advocate. Looking forward to 2017, the AAFP will be prioritizing its advocacy efforts with you, our members. We are fortunate to have a membership that is passionate about family medicine and primary care. I continue to be moved by the selfless passion you have for your patients and communities.  

Most people believe that you need people who are passionate about your cause or issue -- in our case family medicine and primary care -- to have a successful advocacy network. I do not question that passion is an important attribute of successful advocates, but passion alone is not really sufficient to identify and enact change. I am not alone in this thinking, and I have been influenced by author Simon Sinek. I am a disciple of his first book Start With Why. If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to watch his TedTalks about leadership.

Sinek has a quote that has always struck me as descriptive and applicable to advocacy and how individuals and organizations view and approach it: "Being driven is not the same as being passionate. Passion is a love for the journey. Drive is a need to reach the destination."

I think this is demonstrative of the AAFP's current thinking about advocacy. How do we take 124,900 passionate individuals and give them the tools and motivation to be driven to accomplish change versus simply calling for change?

In an effort to give members a way to easily and effectively engage in grassroots advocacy, the AAFP has re-launched its advocacy toolkit, which introduces the new Family Physician Action Network. The network is designed to be a forum to educate, coordinate, and engage family physicians around family medicine's priority issues. Network members will have access to issue briefings, tools and the best practices to directly communicate with your legislators on a given topic. Network members also will have access to an online community platform where they can discuss and organize around legislative issues. This will allow for a more efficient coordination of Speak Outs and social media campaigns.

Our goal is to harness your passion for family medicine and give you the tools to join our efforts to drive change. I urge you to join the Family Physician Action Network . As a member you will receive insider information on the progress of health care in Washington, and you will become a driver of change in Washington, D.C.


I hope that you will advocate for those of us in private practice and not just big business medicine like you have been. I also hope that you stop trying to force all of us to bring our morals down to the level of those in Washington.

Posted by Paul Gettinger on November 08, 2016 at 12:10 PM CST #


Thank you for the blog and for the efforts of AAFP to advocate for all of us. The "Speak Out" platform on the website is very easy to use and I hope every one of our members has enough passion about some issue to Speak Out at least once each year. Wouldn't it be awesome if every member did that? Our voice would be too loud to ignore.

So for every AAFP member that is passionate about something, I encourage you to "Speak Out". Use the "Easy Button" that our Academy has provided on the website and be heard.

Keith Ratcliff

Posted by Keith Ratcliff on November 08, 2016 at 04:47 PM CST #

Words and terminology matter- as we were all relentlessly taught in medical training.

It is very disconcerting to see and hear the AAFP ( through webinars,etc. ) passively allow CMS and other entities to define for us terms like medical quality.

I understand that a statement such as-" quality as defined by recent CMS recommendations" might need to be made. However, to allow non- medical entities to control the narrative regarding such judgment laden terms as "Quality" , "Patient Centered", physician "Performance" and many others is to hand over our hard won prerogatives as highly trained and experienced medical personnel.

Posted by Jeff Burnham on November 10, 2016 at 11:56 AM CST #

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About the Author

Shawn Martin, AAFP Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Practice Advancement and Policy.

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The opinions and views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions and views of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This blog is not intended to provide medical, financial, or legal advice. All comments are moderated and will be removed if they violate our Terms of Use.