Nearing the Finish Line
I always enjoy the AAFP's annual meeting because of the excellent work of our Congress of Delegates, great CME opportunities provided by Scientific Assembly, and the opportunity to network with friends and colleagues, fellow family physicians from around the country. This month's events in San Diego, however, will have added significance for me as I complete my term as AAFP Board Chair and six years of service on the Board of Directors.
The location also is special. San Diego is a wonderful city with
many unique qualities, and it has sentimental significance for my wife and me
because it is where our relationship began. For those attending this year's
meetings -- which are scheduled for Sept. 22-25 and Sept. 24-28, respectively -- I know you also will make your own special connection with the city.
You may not know that one of San Diego’s claims to fame is that it is the original site of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series. The marathon course is lined with live bands roughly every mile, playing music to "rock" you onward.
The marathon is a good metaphor for many individual and organizational efforts. Features of planning, training, endurance, perseverance, support and accomplishment are common to both.
I've always enjoyed challenges. Identifying a worthwhile goal, determining what is necessary to achieve that goal, training and preparing, drawing on others for support, and committing to seeing it through to the finish.
Some years ago, I took on the challenge of completing a marathon. Not having been an endurance runner, this was a stretch for me. I read about marathon training and drew tips from friends who are runners. Training was a big time commitment with occasional minor running injuries to work around. I convinced two younger family members that they should run the same marathon so we could encourage each other.
The day of the Portland Marathon arrived, and my training had gone well. The weather was great, and the first few miles went smoothly. The course in Portland is lined with spectators offering encouragement -- not just to the elite runners in the front, but also to those of us back in the pack.
I learned about "hitting the wall," where your muscle glycogen is exhausted, around mile 20. It was a struggle to continue, but pushing through to the finish line was worth the effort. There was a tremendous mixture of accomplishment and exhaustion when it was over. I collected my medal for finishing, a T-shirt, a space blanket and a banana, and lay down to wait for my younger family members to finish.
For me, the next finish line is in San Diego. I’ve done my best to prepare myself to represent our members, persevere through challenges along the way and draw on the support of many others to succeed.
I'd like to express my thanks to the AAFP Board members and Academy staff I've had the privilege to work with, the many AAFP members who have provided support and encouragement, and to my wife and fellow family physician Anne Montgomery, M.D., without whom I could not have finished.
So what comes after that finish line? Anne and I are relocating from Spokane, Wash., to work at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Anne will be associate director of a new family medicine residency program, and I will be chief medical information officer and also will see patients.
My next marathon? I’ll be continuing with you in our collective family medicine marathon. Together, we've prepared ourselves for the critical role our country needs us to play as the foundation of a high quality and cost-effective health care system. We have a ways to go before we reach our goals. Working together and supporting one another, we can push though that wall to achieve the vision we seek.
Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., is the Board Chair of the AAFP.