Blessings, hopes, and new beginnings in difficult times
Inaugural address of the newly installed TAFP President
By Amer Shakil, MD
I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be elected as president of Texas Academy of Family Physicians. I recall my first TAFP meeting in the winter of 1998 after I had moved to Dallas and joined the St. Paul Residency Faculty. The following year, I joined the Commission on Academic Affairs and since then, I have hardly missed any TAFP meetings. A year later I also joined the Dallas Chapter of TAFP, where I still serve on the board.
The reason I have been so regular in my attendance to these meetings is none other than the welcoming, supporting, and nurturing environment of TAFP, exemplified by its visionary leadership and staff year after year and meeting after meeting. I was lucky to find great mentors like Linda Siy and Doug Curran, colleagues like Jake Margo and Ashok Kumar, and of course all of our TAFP staff members.
In addition, both St. Paul and UT Southwestern residency programs also supported and encouraged such activities and participation. My biggest support for all these times has been my lovely wife, Dr. Khalida Yasmin, who helped lift my spirits in times when I thought I would not be able to continue to participate due to other responsibilities of family, my job, and community service.
I’m often asked by my friends how can I be so consistent in my commitments. Definitely it’s a blessing from God and some good habits I learned from my parents. My father, Mohammad Mansha Yad, was an engineer by profession, but his true passion was writing. He was a world-renowned writer for our national language, Urdu. He established a writer’s forum soon after the inception of the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad. He attended those weekly meetings from his mid-twenties until a day before he passed away at the age of 74. My mother, Farhat Nasim, the anchor of our family, showed her unwavering support for him throughout all those years. She cooked special meals for innumerable meetings my father would host at home for his writer friends and our very large family.
TAFP has had a significant impact on my professional career development. Here at TAFP, I learned how to conduct business meetings, lead teams, and work with professionals. I learned how to write and keep meeting minutes. I participated in leadership forums, learned how to engage in healthy debates, be tolerant of an opposite viewpoint, and to create and adopt to changes in our governance structure.
As I have prepared for my year as TAFP President, I have considered many different goals and objectives. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I learned about so many family physicians who are struggling or have had to shut down their practices. I think the most important work of my presidency would be to provide support for our members in these unprecedented times. Be it supporting the Primary Care Marshall Plan, providing counseling services for members who are struggling or feeling burnout, or just being there to listen in this era of social distancing and fear of human touch, it seems to me we have plenty of work to do to support our members.
This will be an important legislative year, the 87th Texas Legislature. What format they will use to conduct business we don’t know, but we know they will meet. I’ll be working closely with our TAFP team to provide any assistance they need from me.
We will also be implementing our new governance structure. As TAFP President, I’m looking forward to engaging in this transition. My hope is that it will increase opportunities for more members to participate and continue our tradition of diversity and inclusion.
With recent and ongoing events of police brutality against the Black community, I’m committed to providing open and safe spaces for these difficult discussions around anti-racism. Our Texas Academy has wonderful tradition of diversity. Now we have the chance to join with the community at large and work toward true equity and justice, and to work to end racism and senseless hate.
I would to thank the TAFP Board of Directors, the Academy’s members and staff for entrusting this responsibility to me. TAFP has not experienced a time like this before where we could not to hold our meetings in person and must conduct our business virtually. Despite all these challenges, our TAFP staff as always has risen to the challenge and made it smooth and easy.
I would like to offer special thanks to my mother for her prayers and well wishes, and to Yasmin for being the backbone and unwavering support.
I praise God for blessing us with two wonderful sons, Salim and Imran Plumb, who are working on the front lines during this pandemic as a primary care physician and a police detective; and their spouses, Jill and Ashly Plumb respectively; and for the greatest joy of our lives, our grandchildren, Gabriel, Layla, Zain, Dean, Jasmin, Farah, and Violet; and most special of all, our granddaughter in heaven, Malin Rose Plumb.