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Tuesday Dec 03, 2013

FPs Doing Good Work in House of Medicine

I recently represented our members at the AMA Interim Meeting in National Harbor, Md. The AMA obviously is a very different organization than ours, but it provides family physicians with another opportunity to lead and advocate at the state and national levels. I was truly impressed by the tremendous contributions being made by family physicians across the country.

Many of our members may not realize how involved some of their family physician colleagues are in the AMA, but we do everything we can -- anywhere we can -- to take our messages forward. I want to share my praise for a number of hard working FPs who represent our specialty and their patients through their work in the AMA.

The AAFP's delegation to the AMA is an outstanding group of dedicated individuals. Many of them have spent a decade or more involved in the AMA, and several are in positions of leadership. Our delegation is chaired by Joseph Zebley, M.D., of Baltimore and his co-chair  Daniel Heinemann, M.D., of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Other members of the AAFP delegation are

  • Neil Brooks, M.D., of Vernon Rockville, Conn.;
  • Aaron George, D.O., of Durham, N.C..;
  • Ajoy Kumar, M.D., of Saint Petersburg, Fla.
  • Glenn Loomis, M.D., of Crestview Hills, Ky.;
  • Frederick Ridge, M.D., of Linton, Ind.;
  • Hugh Taylor, M.D., of South Hamilton, Mass.;
  • Colette Willins, M.D., of Westlake, Ohio; and
  • Mack Worthington, M.D., of Des Moines, Iowa.

Two of those delegation members -- Willins and Loomis -- serve on AMA councils.

David Swee, M.D., of Piscataway, N.J., is the alternate delegate. AAFP staff members Doug Henley, M.D.; Stan Kozakowski, M.D.; Perry Pugno, M.D., M.P.H.; and Julie Wood, M.D., also play important roles.

We also have critical representation from new physicians Janet West, M.D., of Pensacola, Fla., and Lindsay Bosford, M.D., M.B.A., of Sugarland, Texas; residents Charles Thompson, M.D., of Huntsville, Ala., and Messalina Jordan, D.O., of Brownsboro, Ala.; and students Jerry Abraham of San Antonio and Samuel Mathis of Galveston, Texas.

You might remember that Brooks is a former AAFP President. He is demonstrating a lifelong commitment to our specialty and is moving things forward in every avenue that he can find.

AAFP officers -- Board Chair Jeff Cain, M.D., (pictured with me above) President-elect Robert Wergin, M.D., and myself -- also serve as delegates. Each of us testifies during reference committees, as well as on the floor of the House of Delegates.

We also maintain connections with our state delegations and have many opportunities to talk about the priorities of family medicine in the context of the state chapters and their issues.

It's also worth noting that five members of the AMA Board of Trustees are family physicians, including the chair, David Barbe, M.D., of Mountain Grove, Mo.

Other family physicians on the AMA board are

  • Gerald Harmon, M.D., of Pawleys Island, S.C.;
  • William Kobler, M.D., of Rockford, Ill.; 
  • Albert Osbahr, M.D., of Hickory, N.C.; and
  • Stephen Permut, M.D., of Philadelphia.

All five of these men are AAFP members who understand the importance of family medicine. Each of them has the opportunity to be the AMA President-elect in the near future.

At each AMA event, we hold a dynamic meeting that is called a lunch but is actually more of a caucus. AAFP members from AMA leadership positions and state medical societies are invited to attend. We had more than 100 family physicians present at the most recent lunch as we reviewed AAFP priorities and policies, networked, created connections, talked about ways of engaging, and shared ideas and concerns. This is an important opportunity to communicate with members who may not come to our state chapter or national meetings.

It is exciting to be a part of this dedicated group of family physicians. As I have been saying, the answer to our country's health care needs is team-based care. The AMA meeting allowed us to reconnect with critical segments of our membership team to work to ensure policies that come out of the AMA are in line with the needs of our members. Ultimately, family physicians are on the front lines of organized medicine, working to improve outcomes for patients, increase their satisfaction with their care and decrease the cost of that care. Together we are stronger.

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

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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.