Family physicians come together in the heart of Texas

Tags: annual session and scientific assembly, membership, report, awards, network, event, symposium

Family physicians come together
in the heart of Texas

Report from TAFP’s 63rd Annual Session & Scientific Assembly

posted 07.31.12

About 400 family physicians and other health care providers gathered in Austin this July to learn, network, see old friends, and make new ones, all while celebrating the specialty of family medicine at the 63rd Annual Session and Scientific Assembly. For your TAFP staff, this was a special Annual Session because it was held in our hometown, so we enjoyed recommending our favorite restaurants, coffee houses, and activities to any attendees who were interested. View a photo slide show on our blog at

Again this year, attendees had ample opportunities to learn about a wide variety of topics from a distinguished faculty during the scientific portion of the conference. In addition to the general assembly lectures presented Friday, July 13, through Sunday, July 15, attendees could participate in two Self-Assessment Module workshops on Wednesday, July 11, and had their choice of three afternoon workshops on Thursday, July 12. Plus, the National Procedures Institute offered one of its most popular two-day training courses, Hospitalist Procedures, in conjunction with the conference.

The general session lectures opened Friday with an update on the Texas Academy led by TAFP leaders I.L. Balkcom IV, M.D., and Tom Banning. Thus began two and a half days of excellent continuing medical education, including topics on head injuries in young athletes, dementia, hypothyroidism, strategies for cost-effective care, proper care for hospice patients, and many more. On Sunday morning, AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., addressed the general session, presenting an update on activities of AAFP.

On Thursday night, members gathered at TAFP’s Town Hall Meeting to attend a panel discussion on clinical integration featuring Kevin Spencer, M.D., of Austin; Janet Hurley, M.D., of Whitehouse; and Mike McCrady, M.D., of Henderson.

TAFP held its first Member Assembly at lunch on Friday, as Academy leaders described the organization’s governance structure, the purpose and general activities of the Academy’s various commissions, and opportunities for members to become more involved. Members in attendance asked questions of Academy leadership in an open forum that over the coming years should evolve into one of the organization’s most important meetings.

On Friday evening, the TAFP Foundation held a gala event, a Night of Jazz and Art. TAFP’s newly installed parliamentarian, Tricia Elliott, M.D., was the star of the evening as she sang many well-loved selections from the American song book backed by an Austin-based jazz trio. Paintings for sale decorated the room, a portion of all sales going to support the Foundation.

At the Annual Business and Awards Lunch on Saturday, the 2012 awardees for TAFP’s top honors were unveiled and the 2012-2013 officers assumed their new posts. Justin Bartos III, M.D., of North Richland Hills, was named Texas Family Physician of the Year, the highest honor of the Academy.

Bartos currently serves as medical director of the Dr. David Pillow Senior Health Clinic in North Richland Hills, where he provides comprehensive geriatric care for Medicare patients. He previously practiced for more than 25 years at North Hills Family Medicine, providing multigenerational care in the private practice setting.

In his acceptance speech for the award, he told attendees that though he was nominated chiefly for his political advocacy and leadership in the state and national academies, it is his relationship with his patients that defines him. “Our biggest advocates, our biggest allies are our patients. And all of you who have close relationships with your patients have advocates, too, and they’re always willing to help, you just have to ask. I wouldn’t hesitate. Thank you to my patients who allow me to share their lives with them; they give me purpose and direction.”

Henry Boehm Jr., M.D., who practiced family medicine in his hometown of Brenham for nearly 50 years, was honored as TAFP’s Physician Emeritus.

TAFP honored Rep. Vicki Truitt of Keller with the Patient Advocacy Award. “It’s been my distinct privilege and honor to serve the people of the 98th Texas House district in northeast Tarrant County as well as all Texans,” Truitt told attendees. “I’ve known many of you in this room since you were residents, so the history goes back, the understanding is deep, the concern is deep, and shall continue. Best wishes to you all as you face the challenges of health care before you and I look forward to continuing our friendship.”

The TAFP Foundation presented scholarships to medical students and honored Edwin Franks, M.D., of Iraan, as the Philanthropist of the Year. Lewis Foxhall, M.D., received the Presidential Award of Merit for his leadership of the Texas Statewide Family Medicine Preceptorship Program. In his honor, the TAFP Foundation Board of Trustees created the Lewis Foxhall Student Interest Champion Fund to support stipends for future medical students participating in family medicine preceptorships.

Receiving the 2012 TAFPPAC award was Lloyd Van Winkle, M.D., of Castroville, who has served as TAFPPAC chair for six years. David Buck, M.D., M.P.H., president and founder of Healthcare for the Homeless—Houston, received the Public Health Award. Donald Briscoe, M.D., program director of the Methodist Hospital Family Medicine Residency in Houston, received the Exemplary Teaching Award. And Linda Siy, M.D., of Fort Worth, was awarded the Special Constituency Leadership Award.

Attending as the Academy’s invited guest, Stream presided over the installation of TAFP’s new officers who will lead the Academy in 2012-2013. The new TAFP officers are: President Troy Fiesinger, M.D., of Sugar Land; President-elect Clare Hawkins, M.D., of Baytown; Vice President Ajay Gupta, M.D., of Austin; Treasurer Dale Ragle, M.D., of Dallas; and Parliamentarian Tricia Elliott, M.D., of Houston.

In his presidential address, Fiesinger acknowledged that the health care system is in the midst of a painful transformation. “We stand with our patients at the middle of this storm of abbreviations and acronyms: ACA, ACO, PCMH, EHR, and [the] Medicaid 1115 waiver.”

“It is easy to get frustrated by the changes hitting us daily, but I urge you to channel your anger into action. We understand better than most the reality on the ground—and what our patients need.” Our patients deserve our best, he said, adding that there’s nothing he would rather be doing than pushing each day to get his patients the health care they need.

In his outgoing presidential address, I.L. Balkcom IV, M.D., recalled a pivotal moment in his residency and advised all future physicians in training and in their careers to be the very best family physician they can be.

“You don’t need to shirk a rotation because ‘I’m not going to do that.’ I’ve heard that a little bit lately from some of the residents that rotate: ‘I’m not going to practice OB, so why should I know anything about it?’  ... So I want to encourage our students, our residents, and anyone else here in practice today: Never, ever quit being the best that you can be as a family physician.”

Consistently the conference’s most anticipated event, the President’s Party took place this year at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Revelers were treated to several tastes of Texas and serenaded by Austin’s own country music singer and songwriter Kelly Willis.

It’s never too early to mark your calendars for other TAFP symposia and programs where you can expect more high-quality education and informative topics. TAFP will host six more Self-Assessment Module workshops across the state in 2012 to help ABFM diplomates make progress toward maintenance of certification. See dates and details on the Upcoming Events page of TAFP’s website,

TAFP offers two Primary Care Summit conferences this fall; Primary Care Summit – Houston will be held at the Westin Oaks in Houston Oct. 26-28, and Primary Care Summit – Dallas/Fort Worth will be held at the Westin Galleria Dallas Nov. 2-4. Registration for both programs is now open. The 2013 C. Frank Webber Lectureship will be held Friday, March 1, at the Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, and the 64th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly will be held July 31-Aug. 4, 2013, at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel and the Fort Worth Convention Center.