Delegates to Debate Policy, Select Academy Leaders
More than 200 family physicians representing every state and constituent chapter of the AAFP will gather in Philadelphia next month to discuss issues that affect our specialty, our practices and our patients. These volunteer delegates will work for three days to reach consensus on often hotly debated issues, and resolutions approved by the AAFP Congress of Delegates will become Academy policy.
Who are these delegates, you ask. They are family physicians like us, chosen by their chapters to represent those chapters to the national constituency.
As physicians, we all want to make a difference in some form or fashion. I was an Alabama delegate for more than 10 years before I was elected vice speaker of the Congress in 2008. Although I don't have my own personal agenda or a pet issue to push, I definitely like to know what's going on. The more involved you are in any process, the more you know.
So how do you get involved? Each chapter can send two delegates and two alternate delegates to the Congress. Delegates typically are individuals who have been involved in their chapters as officers or committee members, or who have been recognized as being interested, insightful leaders.
In big chapters, like California or Texas, people interested in participating might find themselves on a waiting list. Smaller chapters, however, sometimes have difficulty attracting enough qualified, available candidates to fill all four of their allotted spots.
Topics to be debated in Philadelphia include revisions to the AAFP bylaws as well as resolutions (Members only) on a wide range of topics, including AAFP dues, clinical and public health issues, CME, electronic health records, and numerous issues related to physician payment.
The Congress also will select a president-elect and a new class of officers and Board members. You can check out all the candidates on the AAFP website.
Members can follow the proceedings -- including the Town Hall meeting and business sessions -- via online streaming video. Keep watching AAFP News Now for more details before the event begins Oct. 14.
John Meigs, M.D., is Speaker of the Congress of Delegates, the governing body of the AAFP.
It was my privilege recently to confer the degree of AAFP Fellow upon 116 family physicians who have distinguished themselves among their colleagues and in their communities through their service to our specialty and their commitment to their own professional development.
I want to encourage all of you who have not already pursued this degree, which is an expression of your commitment to excellence as
a family physician, to do so. If you are unfamiliar with the Fellow program, here is a
little more information.
AAFP Fellows are recognized as champions of family medicine. The Academy established the degree in 1971, and more than 29,000 of you have achieved the honor since then.
The group of Fellows I mentioned above received their certificates at a convocation ceremony during the AAFP Scientific Assembly in Orlando, Fla. For decades, this was the process through which AAFP Fellowship certificates were given, with exceptions for those who received theirs in absentia because of special circumstances.
However, some of you told us that coming to the Academy's annual meeting to receive the Fellow certificate was a barrier. Some of you had a hard time getting away from home because of the demands of your practices or family, and for others, the cost of the trip was a concern because of the difficult economy.
In response, the AAFP has ceased requiring members to attend the annual meeting to receive their Fellow certificates. Instead, many constituent chapters now confer Fellowship, and most of you now can receive your certificate at your chapter's annual meeting.
For those of you who wish to get your certificates via this route, check with your chapter to see if they are conferring Fellows. You should apply for the degree through the Academy at least two months before your chapter meeting.
I hope this change enables more of you to achieve this important goal. Through September, 45 members had received their Fellow certificates at constituent chapter meetings this year.
Any member whose dues and re-election status are in good standing may apply to receive the degree of Fellow after fulfilling the following requirements:
- He or she must have held Active membership for six years, or held a combination of Resident and Active membership for a total of six years;
- He or she must accrue a grand total of 100 points -- as defined by the Fellowship application -- through experiences and activities related to life-long learning, practice quality and improvement, volunteer teaching, public service, publishing and research, and service to the specialty; and
- He or she must submit a one-time fee of $175.
The AAFP is dedicated to promoting excellence in health care. We do this in many ways, but perhaps none is as important as promoting and maintaining high standards among those of us who practice family medicine.
As we juggle our practices, family life and commitments to certain professional organizations, we sometimes get so busy that we forget to show our gratitude to the people who have helped us in these important aspects of our lives.
I reflected on this today after a colleague sent me a link to the University of Texas' alumni publication, which featured an article about Leah Raye Mabry, M.D., R.Ph., of San Antonio.
The article is a fun, first-person account of Leah Raye's experience as the first woman drummer in the Longhorn marching band. Those who know Leah Raye won't be surprised to learn she was a trailblazer.
It's worth clicking on the link just to see the photo of the future Speaker of the Congress of Delegates in her marching band uniform, cheering on the sidelines at a UT game.
At our recent Congress, Leah Raye told the delegates, "When you are called to serve this organization, you've got to do it."
She certainly has backed that up. Leah Raye served six years on the AAFP Board of Directors, three as Vice Speaker and three more as Speaker. The Texan wasn't one to be trifled with when trying to move a meeting along.
"I'm on hormones, and I'm packing," she liked to say.
Leah Raye also served on the Academy's Commission on Health of the Public and Science, the Commission on Finance and Insurance and numerous other task forces and committees.
She served on the board of directors of the Texas AFP, including terms as president, vice president and treasurer. The state chapter awarded her its Presidential Award of Merit earlier this year.
This year's Congress was Leah Raye's last as Speaker. The event also marked the end of terms for Board Chair Lori Heim, M.D., of Vass, N.C.; board members Thomas Felger, M.D., of Granger, Ind., and George Shannon, M.D. of Columbus, Ga.; new physician member Russell Kohl, M.D., of Vinita, Okla.; resident member Heidi Meyer, M.D., of San Diego; and student member Kevin Bernstein, M.D., of Pensacola, Fla.
Thanks to all of you for your service. You have made lasting contributions that are greatly appreciated.
Congress of Delegates and Scientific Assembly: A Week to Remember
That was quite a ride.
No, not just the Assembly Celebration, which drew more than 6,000 members and guests to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park Sept. 16. I'm talking about the past week as a whole.
Between the Congress of Delegates and Scientific Assembly, the AAFP packed a lot into one sunny week in beautiful Orlando.
Here are some highlights:
2 -- Number of songs sung by Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan during Opening Ceremony. In between songs, he told his inspiring story of overcoming adversity to accomplish great things.
50 -- The Congress of Delegates considered 50 resolutions. The delegates adopted 18 resolutions or substitute resolutions while 15 items were referred to the Board of Directors. Among the items adopted were resolutions related to CME, corporate relationships, and the scope of practice of naturopaths. Four resolutions regarding the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, or RUC, were referred to the Board.
333 -- That's the staggering number of evidence-based CME activities, designed specifically for family physicians, that was offered during Assembly.
441 -- The number of AAFP members who attended the Congress of Delegates. The Academy's policy-making event also drew 83 non-members.
4,165 -- That is the numbers of physicians who attended Assembly. The event drew more than 10,000 people, including students, other health care professionals and exhibitors. Orlando proved to be a popular destination with participants bringing 3,712 guests. More than 6,000 people -- including the small group pictured above -- turned out for the Islands of Adventure event.
$32,420 -- The amount raised during the week by FamMedPAC. The AAFP’s federal political action committee helps elect candidates to the U.S. Congress who support the Academy’s legislative goals. If you have not yet contributed to FamMedPac, please consider doing so.
$38,041-- The amount raised during the week by the AAFP Foundation. Thank you to all who support the philanthropic arm of the Academy, which
promotes humanitarian, educational and scientific initiatives to improve the
health of all people.
This week was a great way to start my year as president. I feel re-energized. This is the 20th time I've been to Assembly, and that's always how I feel headed home. This event is a great opportunity to learn so many things and reconnect with colleagues from around the country.
I hope to see you next year in Philadelphia.
The Future Looks Bright for Family Medicine
I have relatively few regrets in my career, but I do wish I would have been involved with the AAFP when I was a medical student and resident. I knew before I entered medical school that family medicine was my future, but my involvement with the Academy didn't really start until I became active in my state chapter as a young physician.
How refreshing it was to see so many of our future leaders already engaged with the Academy this week.
On Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking to more than 200 chief residents participating in our leadership development program. Chief residents are invited to meet each spring in Kansas City, Mo., before the start of the academic year to learn about leadership and to network. They meet again during Scientific Assembly for additional instruction as well as an opportunity to discuss ideas that are working -- or not -- in their residency programs.
The program is in its 16th year, which means that when I was a chief resident … well, I was a few years early.
Today's medical students and residents have ample opportunities to get involved with the AAFP, including our National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students and Annual Leadership Forum.
I regret the opportunity I passed up years ago, so during Thursday's talk I thanked the chief residents for taking advantage of their opportunities.
Physicians young and old should recognize that our health care systems and organizations are complex and require organizational structure and leadership to be effective. Family physicians, with our broad knowledge and experience, are in a unique position to contribute in those environments. There is no other specialty that understands the full spectrum of health care delivery the way we do, and there is no one who provides such a wide spectrum of care and can relate to so many other health care providers the way we do.
As a young physician, I attended school board meetings and city council meetings to provide input on health issues relevant to the small community where I practiced. Many of our young doctors will find similar opportunities to lead in their communities and organizations, and I encourage you to make the most of these situations. You not only can serve your community, you also can provide a voice for family medicine.
On Friday morning, I attended the presentation for the AAFP/Bristol-Myers Squibb Awards for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education where 10 outstanding residents were recognized for their work. It was encouraging to see the future of our specialty in such good hands.
Congratulations to the award winners (pictured above):
- Elizabeth Bogel, M.D., Seattle;
- Zachary Borus, M.D., M.P.H., Rochester, N.Y.;
- Caleb Bowers, M.D., Wichita, Kan.;
- Michelle Jimerson, M.D., M.P.H., Grand Junction, Colo.;
- Christopher Ledford, M.D., Fort Belvoir, Va.;
- Scott McCracken, M.D., York, Pa.;
- Amy McIntyre, M.D., M.P.H., Boise, Idaho;
- Alison Tucker, M.D., Louisville, Ky.;
- Karli Urban, M.D., Columbia, Mo.; and
- Lisa Young, D.O., M.S.N., Greeley, Colo.
Welcome to the AAFP Leader Voices blog. This new blog is an opportunity for leaders of the Academy to engage with members on a more personal basis.
AAFP members are a varied group and with so many disparate viewpoints, it's no surprise that members sometimes feel as if the Academy's leaders aren't listening to their opinions. I am committed to improving communication with you during my year as president. This new blog is one step in meeting that goal. This online forum will offer family physicians an opportunity to hear and be heard on issues of importance to the specialty.
I'll offer regular updates on what the Academy is doing on members' behalf. In turn, you can offer feedback by posting comments. I look forward to thoughtful discussions.
I also plan to communicate via Twitter and Facebook. This approach will offer immediacy and transparency. Whether I'm lobbying on Capitol Hill, meeting with a state chapter, or attending a medical conference, you will know exactly what I'm doing on your behalf.
Follow me on Twitter @aafpprez.
These are challenging times for our specialty, but the family medicine movement is gaining momentum. As I look forward to the coming year, I see tremendous opportunities because we know family medicine is the answer to the health care challenges we face as a nation.
These new social media channels will allow me to let you know about the Academy's activities while also getting valuable feedback from you about how our actions affect you and your practice.
I'm here for you, and I'm listening. Let the conversation begin.