By Kathy McCarthy, TAFP COO
Looking back at the past few years, TAFP has much to be proud of. Family medicine had a successful legislative session this year – increases in graduate medical education funding, restoration of the loan repayment program, and passage of legislation that will reduce hassle by standardizing prior authorization forms. Some other areas to highlight include the tremendous leadership we have at TAFP and the ways that branches out. The election of Dr. Lloyd Van Winkle to the AAFP Board last year makes sure that the voice of the small practice physician is heard at the national level. There are currently three TAFP members serving on the TMA Board of Trustees – Dr. Art Klawitter, Dr. Lewis Foxhall, and Dr. Doug Curran. It’s so important to have those family docs at the table sharing their concerns and perspectives within the house of medicine.
TAFP’s membership is strong and continues to grow. At a time when membership organizations are struggling to retain members, TAFP has seen almost 6.5 percent growth in active membership in the last five years.
As you likely know, the Texas Legislature slashed funding for the Texas Statewide Family Medicine Preceptorship program in 2011. While we wish that had not happened, we are proud to have been able to assume the administrative functions of the program and work with the TAFP Foundation to begin fundraising for preceptorship scholarships. A total of 56 pre-clinical students participated in the program this summer and 13 received the first TAFP Foundation Preceptorship Scholarships. One of the key aspects of leadership and professionalism is reaching back to help those who come behind you. By supporting TAFP, you are part of that effort to assist and encourage the next generation of family physicians.
Your TAFP leadership is mindful of the resources we expend – both money and time we ask our volunteers to commit. We are always looking for ways to make our operations more efficient and provide the responsible stewardship that you deserve. To that end, we have spent the past three years studying the governance structure of TAFP and have proposed changes that will be voted on this weekend at Annual Session’s business lunch. The bylaws amendments that will bring about these changes were printed in the Spring 2013 issue of Texas Family Physician and are available online at www.tafp.org/Media/Default/Downloads/membership/2013_TAFP_Proposed_Bylaws_Amendments.pdf.
Essentially, the change will replace the very large Board of Directors we currently have that includes members from each of TAFP’s 32 local chapters with a smaller 15-member board. The grassroots body in the future would be a Member Assembly that will meet at Annual Session. All attendees will be welcome to attend and each chapter will have a specific number of voting delegates. After much debate and study of governance theories and best practices, the leadership of TAFP believes this change will allow more voices to be heard in the organization and it will create a board that is better suited to execute the legal and fiduciary responsibilities of a governing body. The committees, commissions, and sections will not be affected by these changes.
The next few years hold challenges and opportunities for all of us. One thing to watch for with TAFP is a change to our CME calendar. Next summer will be the last summertime Annual Session. In 2015, the Annual Session will move to November. We believe this will be a positive change and will generate more attendees and allow more residents and medical students to participate in the meeting. TAFP will continue to advocate for your practice and your patients. With the changes in health care, TAFP keeps an eye on the future to provide information and resources to help you navigate.
So how can you get involved? One way is to join a TAFP commission or attend other business meetings, but there are many other ways to support the specialty. You can become a preceptor and mentor the next generation of family physicians. You can sign up to be a key contact and get to know your elected officials. Make sure they understand the importance of primary care in the health care system and be prepared to contact them when key votes are happening. You can get involved with your TAFP local chapter or attend your county medical society meetings and bring the voice of family medicine. You can invest in TAFP PAC and support the TAFP Foundation. You can attend TAFP CME conferences. You can engage in the conversation about family medicine through social media. You can write an entry for the blog or just follow TAFP on Twitter and re-tweet important messages. These are all significant ways that you can do your part and require varying levels of time and money. Decide what you can give and make a commitment today.
If you want to get involved in the organizational structure of TAFP, the best way to get started is to attend a commission or section that sparks your interest. They all meet twice a year at the Interim and Annual Sessions. Most meet on Saturday at Interim Session in Austin and Thursday at the Annual Session which moves around the state. Whether your passion is public health, legislative affairs, or graduate medical education, we have a group that you can join and help TAFP advance our mission. You can attend as a guest to see what you think or you can ask to be formally appointed to the commission.
In addition to commissions and committees, TAFP has several sections. They are open discussions groups – kind of like in-person listserves that bring together members with common interests and circumstances. All members are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion.
Thank you for your continued membership as it helps advance the mission of TAFP every day.