Chapter Meetings Shine Light on Constituent Issues
It's good to be home.
In less than three weeks, I have been to Fort Myers, Fla., for a leadership symposium; to San Diego for the Family Medicine Working Party (the biannual meeting of seven family medicine organizations); to Lake Tahoe, Nev., for the Nevada AFP's annual meeting; and back to Florida for the AAFP Foundation's annual meeting with its corporate partners.
Although all of these trips were important, the Nevada event stands out for me. It was our first constituent chapter meeting of the new year and just my second as president-elect. Each year, AAFP Board members make it to as many chapter meetings as we can. These events present wonderful opportunities to talk face to face with members, many of whom don't have the chance to travel to Academy events outside their own states.
(Here, my wife, Alex, and I talk with Nevada AFP chapter executive Brooke Wong and members Donald Farrimond, M.D., and Tom Hunt, M.D.)
To do our jobs as elected leaders, we need to hear the concerns and issues of family physicians across the country. In 2012, Board members made it to 43 chapter meetings. (Former Board members, such as Past President Ted Epperly, M.D., filled in at six others.)
During chapter meetings, Academy leaders give an update on what the AAFP is doing on a national level regarding a wide range of issues. But we're also there to listen.
What do you need?
What does your chapter need?
Although family physicians share common issues -- the need for fair payment being the obvious example -- some problems are unique to states and regions, and perspectives vary from one state to another. These meetings offer an opportunity for our national and constituent organizations to connect and for you as an individual family physician to shine a light on problems that need the Academy's attention.
The AAFP represents more than 105,000 physicians nationwide. Members' needs are many and diverse. We don't always agree. But there can, and should, always be dialogue on important topics. These interactions inform the Board's discussions about topics of critical interest to family medicine as we work to represent all family physicians.
These meetings also offer a chance for chapters to point out successes that might be replicated by our colleagues elsewhere. Bright spots and solutions to common problems must be shared.
I'm scheduled to attend chapter meetings in Idaho, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee and Washington this year. Don't be shy. Let's talk.
Reid Blackwelder, M.D., is the president-elect of the AAFP.