By Leo Lopez, III, MD
During the 2017 Texas legislative session, I spent time at the State Capitol in Austin as a recipient of the TAFP Foundation James C. Martin, MD, Scholarship, appreciating the depth, scope, and importance of physician advocacy. In my time as a medical student and resident, I’ve watched health policy debates evolve. I’ve watched them triumph from inception to implementation. I’ve watched them fall in committee at the behest of a deluge of lobbying efforts and special interests.
As these important issues revolving around clinical practice, graduate medical education, and access to health care are debated, the relative silence of the physician voice is impressive. While many outstanding physician leaders make selfless sacrifices to protect patient and physician interests, the gross physician influence in advocacy and health policy is severely impoverished.more
By Jean Klewitz
HCAFP met for their third annual medical student roundtable on Tuesday, March 6, to host an open discussion on family medicine. The mission of the discussion is to dispel myths about family medicine often heard by students in academia. Members welcomed 28 medical students for dinner at Houston’s Baba Yega restaurant. It was an evening of frank questions and enlightening conversation in which even salary amounts were openly discussed.
HCAFP President, Lindsay Botsford, MD, MBA, kicked off the presentation by telling the students that the goal was to break down barriers and “meet people who are actually doing family medicine.” Botsford moderated the nine-physician panel, which included physicians in academics, solo practice, and group practice. With the variety of careers represented on the panel, Botsford encouraged students to reach out after the discussion if they wanted a personal connection with someone who is practicing in a way they envision for themselves. Unable to represent the whole gamut of family medicine on the panel, Botsford said, “That’s the beauty of family medicine… we have so much diversity in what we do that we just couldn’t even represent it all here tonight.”more
By Janet L. Hurley, MD
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of representing Texas family physicians at a conference sponsored by Superior Health Plan called “Changing the Paradigm in the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Substance Use Disorder in Texas.” As a middle-aged primary care physician who grew up in the era of “pain is the fifth vital sign,” I was frustrated by some comments made by legislators and health care policymakers, many of whom are not primary care physicians and have no idea what it is like trying to apply new pain guidelines to patients who are suffering. It is time to empower primary care physicians with the tools needed to manage these patients humanely and safely.
The patients we worry the most about, who have had childhood traumas and diffuse pain syndromes, often take combination drugs like benzodiazepines and opiates, and are some of the hardest to treat. We are told by new CDC guidelines that we should try to minimize treatment with these drugs, yet these patients often have intense psychosocial needs that our medical communities are not equipped to address. Experiments done in other areas where physicians made a firm stance against ongoing prescribing have sometimes led to higher overdose deaths from illicit drug use.more
By Larry Kravitz, MD
Why write about courage in medicine now? Simply because we are witnessing an erosion of ethics, truth, science, and altruism in our society. Not that the world has become a vast Sodom and Gomorrah, but we are seeing more amplified abandonment of idealism in front of us daily, and I have found myself more and more challenged to find public leaders embracing selflessness. It is more tempting to abandon ideals when society doesn’t seem to value them anymore. So let us look back on an era where Washington, D.C. was once referred to as “Camelot” and idealism was the dream of the entire American realm, and let us decide together to still be courageous.
The idea for John Kennedy’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize winning collection of essays, “Profiles in Courage,” was perfect. The young Senator Kennedy prepares for a future of statesmanship and service by delving back to find beacons that could light his way forward in government.more
By Perdita Henry
You may have noticed a few emails encouraging you to complete the 2018 Member Survey. This isn’t just any survey. Your responses will guide TAFP leadership and staff during the upcoming strategic planning meeting.
Every few years, TAFP begins the process of preparing for what’s next and asks its members to share in-depth information about themselves and the future as they see it. Those answers drive an immersive meeting where TAFP leadership will begin charting the course for the Academy’s next few years. The last time we sent out a survey of this nature was a few years ago and so much has changed since then.more
By Tasaduq Hussain Mir, MD, FAAFP
It has been almost a year now since I read the powerful book, “When Breath Becomes Air,” a neurosurgical scholar’s account of his losing battle with cancer. Dr. Paul Kalanithi died at a very young age of 36 due to lung cancer that had spread from his lungs to his brain.
“When Breath Becomes Air” is about a journey toward an imminent death. This book is a doctor’s account as a patient and the reciprocal relationship between him and his doctor. It is about an uncomfortable sense of vulnerability when it comes to physicians being on the other side of the table as patients. It is also about our gratitude for what we have in our hands and how to reconcile with what is beyond our reach. It is about our appreciation for each and every blessing that comes our way without us realizing it.more
By Melissa Benavides, MD
There is tremendous need across the state of Texas for increased access to women’s health services. As a physician representing the TAFP on the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, I would like to remind my colleagues that family physicians are well positioned to fill this void. Even some of the smaller, more remote towns throughout our state are served by dedicated family physicians who have equipped themselves to provide convenient, wide-ranging women’s health services. As many patients prefer and trust their family physician, we are well-positioned to make positive impacts on the health status of women and children throughout Texas.
I would like to address two major steps we can take as family physicians to improve the availability and convenience of women’s health services in our state.more
The 2018 C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session Family Medicine Resident and Student Track drew students and residents from all over the state. Participants received a warm welcome from TAFP President, Janet Hurley, MD, explored the frontier of telemedicine, got an in-depth lesson on family medicine finances from past president of TAFP and president-elect of TMA, Doug Curran, MD, and much more.
In addition to timely discussions and presentations, the Section on Resident Physicians and the Section on Medical Students held elections for various officer positions. Officer candidates had the chance to talk to their colleagues about their professional passions and how they would represent resident and student TAFP members within the Academy.
TAFP Resident Section Officersmore
By Perdita Henry
Texas’ best and brightest family physicians gathered in Austin, April 13-14, to learn the latest in CME, determine the direction of the Academy, and reconnect with colleagues from across the state during the annual C. Frank Webber Lectureship and Interim Session.
More than 400 physicians, residents, medical students, and other health care professionals took part in the yearly event, featuring an energetic exhibit hall, vibrant committee meetings, and special learning opportunities and activities beyond the CME lecture hall. CME attendees had the opportunity to earn up 17 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and AAFP Prescribed Credits.more
Your patients have a lifetime of vaccines ahead of them. The easiest way to keep them organized is ImmTrac2, the Texas Immunization Registry. The Texas Department of State Health Services provides this registry. It is secure and confidential, and safely consolidates and stores Texans’ immunization records in one place.
ImmTrac2 replaces the ImmTrac system launched in 1996, and now offers expanded capabilities including immunization history, forecasts, reminders, instant reports, easy edit/delete functions, and resettable passwords.
With more than 164 million vaccine records, the registry is a major component of DSHS’s initiative to increase immunization coverage across Texas.more