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Wednesday Aug 13, 2014

Walk the Talk: Students, Residents Step Up to Support AAFP Advocacy Efforts

If you want students and residents to get involved in an issue, sometimes all you have to do is ask.

At an AAFP Board of Directors meeting earlier this year, we heard a report on FamMedPAC, the Academy's political action committee, which helps elect candidates to the U.S. Congress who support the AAFP's legislative goals and objectives.

During the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students, we challenged our respective member segments to see who could raise the most money for FamMedPAC, the Academy's political action committee. Residents and students donated more than $1,000 during the three-day event.

The report included data on the relatively small category of student and resident support.  As the resident and student members of the Board, we thought that category could -- and should -- be much larger. The perception has been that students and residents don't have a lot of money to contribute and, therefore, typically aren't a focal point for fundraising efforts.

However, we thought our colleagues would step up to the plate if given the opportunity, so we came up with the idea of the FamMedPAC Challenge. During the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students in Kansas City, Mo., last week, we rallied our respective groups of students and residents to support the PAC. We knew that the residents and students would answer the call and donate, but the results exceeded our expectations.  

Advocacy consistently ranks among the top Academy priorities for students and residents, and both groups consistently bring issues to the AAFP's attention because they feel so passionate about the advances that can be made for our specialty and, more importantly, our patients. There were nearly two dozen resolutions in the resident and student congresses at National Conference that related specifically to advocacy.  

During the conference, AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn., gave a presentation on advocacy, and the room was packed. As part of that session, students and residents worked up an advocacy issue, which they then transformed into short "elevator speeches" in small groups. Each group practiced pitching their talking points to the entire room, and we were blown away by how well they articulated their messages.  

Throughout National Conference, we spoke about the FamMedPAC Challenge and the PAC from the stage, but we also got the word out through social media and, of course, lots of old-school, face-to-face chatting. Both of us handed out donation forms with $1 (an actual dollar bill from our personal accounts) and a PAC donor ribbon attached. Many students and residents had already donated during the past year, but some gave again by adding $9 to our $1 for a $10 contribution, the minimum amount to get their respective group a point toward winning the challenge. Most donors, however, were new.

The FamMedPAC Challenge was a huge success. We had 51 donations: 31 residents contributed a total of $629, and 20 students gave a total of $431 for a three-day total of $1,060, which is by far the most money ever donated to the PAC during National Conference.

Now we'd like to challenge the rest of the AAFP membership. If medical students and residents -- with their ever-growing student loan burdens -- can reach into their pockets and make a donation to help advance our specialty, won't you?

Kimberly Becher, M.D., and Tate Hinkle, M.D., are the resident and student members, respectively, of the AAFP Board of Directors.

Comments:

Kim and Tate: thank you for your leadership and for spearheading the demonstration of engagement of your peer students and residents. As President of the PAFP, AAFP Foundation Board Chapter Trustee, and FamMed PAC supporter, I am encouraged by the future of our specialty when I see leadership acts such as this one. I was unable to attend National Conference with you all this year, but was there "in spirit" with many friends attending . I will help Andy Lutzkanin and Kristina Zimmerman carry the momentum forward next year! Thank you again! Doug

Posted by Doug Spotts MD on August 13, 2014 at 07:28 PM CDT #

Doug: Thank you for your kind words and your support of FamMedPAC and of students and residents. Kimberly and I knew that students and residents would step up and they certainly did. We hope this will inspire more members to get involved with the FamMedPAC and those students and residents to continue to donate throughout their career. We want to start early with them being role models. Thanks again for your support.

Posted by Tate Hinkle, M.D. on August 14, 2014 at 04:11 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.