Working With the Family of Family Medicine
Did you know that twice a year the AAFP meets with six other family medicine organizations to discuss issues of importance to our specialty as well as the role that each organization can play in relation to those issues?
Don't let the name fool you. The Family Medicine Working Party is mostly about work.
The AAFP and other family medicine organizations started discussing the need to improve communication and maximize resources amongst the groups that work to promote, improve and sustain our specialty more than 30 years ago. The first working party -- which consisted of the Academy, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM), the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), and the AAFP Foundation -- was held in 1978. By 1981, the event had become biannual.
Along the way, the working party grew to include the Association of Departments of Family Medicine (ADFM), the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors (AFMRD) and the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG).
Meetings of the working party typically focus on the difficulties facing family physicians and the future of the profession. For example, the agenda at a recent meeting in Florida included discussions about the challenges we face in graduate medical education, student interest and health care reform. There also was an excellent discussion about the upcoming four-year residency training pilot.
In addition to improving communication and cooperation, the purpose of the working party is to avoid duplication of effort among the groups and to delineate areas of responsibility.
We know from communications with you that there is some confusion about these groups, their roles and how they work together. So here is a brief look at the other organizations in the working party.
- AAFP Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Academy. Its mission is to advance the values of family medicine by promoting humanitarian, educational and scientific initiatives that improve the health of all people.
- ABFM strives to improve the quality of medical care available to the public by establishing and maintaining standards of excellence in the specialty. It administers the Maintenance of Certification Exam for family physicians.
- ADFM promotes the philosophy and interests of family medicine in medical schools.
- AFMRD strives to help family medicine residency program directors achieve excellence in training.
- NAPCRG is a volunteer association committed to producing and disseminating new knowledge from all disciplines relevant to primary care.
- STFM responds to the needs of family medicine educators, including medical school professors, preceptors, residency program faculty and residency program directors.
These groups, working together with the AAFP, launched the Future of Family Medicine Project 10 years ago to develop strategies to renew and transform the discipline to meet the needs of patients in a changing health care environment. That initiative led to the development of the patient-centered medical home model of care.
One of the most interesting things we discussed during our recent meeting was a consideration of an initiative that will serve as a follow up to the Future of Family Medicine Project. A planning committee will develop recommendations for consideration to present to the next working party meeting, which is scheduled for January in San Diego.
Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., is president of the AAFP.