Chapters Can Help Each Other By Sharing Insights
One of the real joys of being on the AAFP Board of Directors -- and now being an officer for the Academy -- is the opportunity to meet members from all over the country, as we often are invited to attend the annual meetings of our chapters.
These meetings usually feature outstanding education presentations. There also are celebrations and transitions to new chapter officers, who visiting Academy Board members have the privilege of installing.
Additionally, we get the unique opportunity to hear how things are going in individual chapters, both the good and the bad. Although we often hear of the challenges family physicians are facing in their states, their success stories are equally striking.
Often, when you implement a new program or policy in your practice to meet a patient or practice need, you might not appreciate how impressive that change is and how it appears to others. As someone who has crisscrossed the country visiting chapters during the past four years, I've often seen the bigger picture, and I can tell you, some of these success stories truly are incredible.
The Academy highlights some of these achievements each month in AAFP News Now's chapter spotlight series. If you haven’t done so already, check out these stories. By sharing our successes on a state-by-state level, we can help benefit family physicians who may be facing similar circumstances in other states.
During the past three years, AAFP News Now has chronicled the efforts of more than 30 chapters, including the amazing rural outreach programs going in Idaho, a medical student mentoring program in New Hampshire, a primary care student loan repayment program in Iowa and an innovative CME program in Arizona.
It is important to see some of these bright spots because they suggest ways all of us could approach certain challenges. The issues being addressed are common for family physicians all over the country. Each chapter can relate to some aspect of these issues that affect our members.
At the Academy's' Annual Leadership Forum, I had the opportunity to host a breakfast for current chapter presidents and presidents-elect. We experimented during that event with sharing our bright spots. There were so many people with wonderful things to share that we ran out of time before we could hear them all.
I will be distributing a summary of these bright spots to chapter leaders. However, we have a real opportunity in this forum to do the same kind of sharing.
I encourage every family physician who reads this to take a moment and share something positive about what is going on in your practice or in your chapter. Please use the comment section to let us know what incredible things you are doing.
I look forward to seeing these discussions broaden and become a source of positive change and support for each other.
I realize we often need to talk about topics that can be divisive, and comments on listservs can sometimes go in a negative direction. For this blog, let's commit to not hiding our light under a bushel and happily advertise how incredible we are!
We all will gain by being able to recognize our own successes in the middle of what often can be difficult days. We also will see that such positivity and successes are more common than we perceive them to be.
We are entering a golden age for family medicine. People are beginning to look to us for the answers as they recognize that we really are the foundation of transforming our health care system. Now is the time for us to recognize these ourselves and to create a deep well of opportunities.
Thank you in advance for sharing and for being part of the solution.
Reid Blackwelder, M.D., is President-elect of the AAFP.