The first official day of the AAFP’s Congress of Delegates was met with tremendous hoopla and formality, as typically accompanies such events. That being said, the day was quite inspiring, and helped me remember why it’s great to be a Family Physician.
The Academy’s outgoing president, Dr. Wanda Filer, has done an absolutely excellent job this past year of representing what is best for Family Medicine. She shared much of where Family Medicine is currently: 31% of all medical students are members of the AAFP; 1 in 5 Family Physicians currently practice in areas where patients have no one else to provide their care; Family Physicians provide more mental health care than Psychiatrists. The future of Family Medicine is bright, but we have a lot of work still to do. She has encouraged us to share our story of Family Medicine with at least five people in the next year to spread our important health care message.
Dr. John Meigs, our incoming president, shared some history of Family Medicine as a discipline. The formal definition of Family Medicine was created in 1966, making this the 50th birthday of our wonderful specialty! Then Dr. Bob Wergin, our outgoing Board Chair, reminded us of the great Mike Tyson, who said: “Everybody has a plan…until you are punched in the nose.”
This then led to formal discussion among the delegates in the reference committees of the 64 resolutions. We discussed issues that have punched us in the nose, so to speak. Issues such as prescription drug costs; physician burnout, especially through simplifying things such as prior authorization and maintenance of certification; ensuring proper payment for all that we do; and tools to further improve many of the social determinants of health that hugely impact our patients and affect our ability to provide them the proper care they deserve. These discussions will be ongoing through the subsequent days of the Congress, along with voting on leadership positions for our Academy.
The theme of the day: it’s important to share our perspective so as to improve the health and lives of our patients. Thank you for all that you do as Family Physicians in the great state of Utah!
Kyle B. Jones, MD
Salt Lake City, Utah