Five Lessons From 2015 #AAFPWC

For the past couple of days, I have been working with my friends in the Family Medicine Revolution (#FMRevolution on twitter) at the 2015 winter edition of the AAFP Committee meetings. AAFP, of course, stands for the American Academy of Family Physicians. For the twitter folk, I direct you to the #aafpwc hashtag (stands for AAFP winter committee cluster meetings. Photo above from Friday, February 6, 2015 which was Go Red For Women Day to raise awareness for Women's Heart Health)

During these meetings, we talk about how we can bring about change for the betterment of our patients and to advance the goals of our specialty. I always try to think of take away themes to share with all of you, especially when I'm stuck at the airport on a long layover trying to get home. Here are five things that have come to mind from the past 2 days:

  • All Advocacy Is Local - It's always great talking with Family Docs, Family Medicine Residents, and medical students. You've heard the phrase, "All Politics Is Local." The same thing can be said of all the local projects that these great people are doing. Of course, national initiatives are great. But, change really starts and is carried through from the grassroots. Kudos to my friends and colleagues who may not get the publicity, but their efforts are much appreciated.
  • What Is The Value of Membership - I serve on the Membership Committee for my organization. Membership organizations need members. Duh. But every physician organization discussed the challenges of the cost of membership, and how they are going up every year. And, every physician organization talks about how to retain their current members, and brainstorm about how to get more members. Showing the Value of Membership is not only the most difficult, but also it is the most important. How to do that? That's the hard part.
  • The Synergy Of Decision Making - One of the things that I love about serving on AAFP committees are the diversity of people and the diversity of ideas that are all in one room. The task is to get through the agenda to insure that the minority point of view to be heard, but the majority vote to rule. It's just so much fun hearing from all these people, and as we begin to understand more points of view around an issue, this makes it easier to come together to agree upon a decision. It may not be the best decision for that specific committee member, but it will end up being the best decision for the entire group.
  • It's All About Telling Stories - This is not a new idea, but came up in discussions about the Family Medicine Advocacy project called Health is Primary. I have said many times in the past, that we (in Family Medicine) have let others tell the Family Medicine story, and it's the wrong story. I'm excited that the "Health Is Primary Road Show" will be starting in the next couple of weeks. I also encourage you to check out the "Health Is Primary: Focus On Fitness And Nutrition."
  • Political Change Requires Resources - The use of money in politics is a necessary evil to try to bring out political change. I know people don't like that fact, but that's the way the game is played. To try to bring about legislative change, you need access to politicians. And to get access to politicians, you need resources, meaning money. This morning, there was a presentation about the Family Medicine Political Action Committee. According to the website, since it's formation in 2005, FamMedPAC has received $2.6 million in donations from more than 5000 members, including Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students.

"Never Doubt That A Small Group of Thoughtful, Committed Citizens Can Change The World; Indeed, It's The Only Thing That Ever Has" - This is a quote from Margaret Mead and is used often in advocacy work. I keep coming back to this quote when I start to get frustrated working in this broken health care system. Being around these great people and talking about common goals, really energizes me and gives me the strength to get back to work to help our patients. And, who knows, one of these days, I know in my heart that we can change the world...