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Friday Mar 14, 2014

For This State Chapter, It Truly Is a 'Family Affair'

One of the characteristics that truly defines family physicians is that we recognize everything is about relationships. We certainly understand this when to come to our patients.

I worked with a medical student recently, and she was impressed by how much I knew about patients I hadn't seen for months. I told her that it's because we family physicians know our patients, and we value their stories. This is how we help take care of folks and how we put everything into context. It's one of the things that make family physicians special.

Nevada AFP executive director Brooke Wong is her chapter's sole staff member, but her entire family helped the chapter's annual meeting run smoothly. Here, daughters Alexa, 9, and Kendall, 3, along with Bear Farrimond, 5, assist Jeffrey Ng, M.D., with a raffle drawing.

We walk our talk in so many other ways, too. This relationship aspect is something I see regularly, and thoroughly enjoy, as I travel around the country and talk with Academy members. One of my responsibilities -- it's an opportunity, really -- as AAFP president is to attend state chapter meetings. Often, I am there to install new officers, provide educational opportunities and update members on what the AAFP is doing for them.

But I think what I am really doing is reinforcing the power of relationships. The connections I am making are phenomenal. Many of the physicians I see at chapter meetings are people I have met at other meetings because we often travel the same paths. However, each state chapter also has physicians who are not involved at the national level. These are the dedicated family physicians on the front lines who are often coming together for their own networking and education.

Behind all of this activity are the chapter executives who do outstanding work for their members. These are truly compassionate and remarkable individuals who help each chapter be the best version of what it can be.

I recently traveled to South Lake Tahoe, Nev., for the Nevada AFP's annual meeting. I was invited to the chapter's meeting last year, but I had to cut that trip short to make an unplanned, but very important, other meeting. I was thrilled that the Nevada AFP asked me and my wife, Alex, to come again this year. We were eager to get the full experience this time.

What was remarkable is that you would never know that this actually is a small chapter. A large number of people attended the very well-put-together CME sessions in a beautiful location. However, what was most powerful to me was how much of a family affair this event was. The moment I arrived, executive director Brooke Wong welcomed me into her bustling command center.

Brooke is a staff of one, but her family provided plenty of help to make the meeting run smoothly. Her young daughters helped with a silent auction. Her husband, Conrad, provided IT support and took photographs. He was everywhere, making sure that the CME came off without a hitch and documenting all of the events.

At registration, Brooke's mother and father greeted people with a smile, offered chocolate and signed attendees up for all of the various events.

As soon as we walked in, we were part of the Nevada AFP family. There is truly no better example of the power of relationships than what occurs at these chapter meetings.

Thanks to all of the chapters I've had a chance to visit, and I look forward to those coming up. It is an incredible opportunity, and I value being a part of each of your families.

Reid Blackwelder, M.D., is president of the AAFP.

Comments:

Yes Dr. Blackwelder! That was such a surprise to see! My first NAFP meeting was last year and I was so amazed at the entire family involvement from Brooke on down. She manages to put together an amazing CME with her 'chain of command' and they all make every attendant feel so welcome. I'm spreading the word about the meeting now since it is a great venue, has great CME and is so fun!! The Summer one is in Las Vegas every year too....

Posted by H. Rene' on March 18, 2014 at 01:35 PM CDT #

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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.