Archives / 2014
  • Advocate for the specialty of family medicine with TAFP

    Tags: advocacy, key contacts, physician of the day, tafppac, legislature

    TAFP serves as your voice in the Texas Legislature and we have a team of advocates with strong relationships throughout the Capitol community and in state agencies working on your behalf. We continue to make strides for the specialty, but we can’t do it without your help. TAFP members can make a difference and we invite you to get involved in the fight for family medicine.

    The 84th Texas Legislature convenes on Tuesday, Jan. 13, and getting involved is possible no matter how much time you’re able to commit. Whether taking five minutes to read a TAFP Capitol Update and send a message to your representative, or a few minutes to donate to TAFPPAC online, or dedicating a day to see patients at the Capitol, your involvement matters. Here are a few opportunities to consider.

    • Sign up to be a Key Contact – State and federal lawmakers are making decisions that directly affect your patients and your practice. As legislative battles heat up, legislators need to hear from family physicians about how medicine should be practiced. Physicians who sign up for TAFP’s Key Contact program serve as resources to their legislators, educating them on health care issues that affect the practice of medicine and patient care. As a Key Contact, TAFP will reach out to you leading up to and during the 84th Legislative Session with resources and guidance for connecting with your senator or representative. It can be as easy as sending an e-mail, but each member interaction adds to the total effort.
    • Serve as a Physician of the Day – As a service to the Texas Legislature, TAFP coordinates the Physician of the Day program. TAFP-member family physicians volunteer to staff the Capitol Health Services Clinic for a day during each legislative session or special session, demonstrating first-hand the value and necessity of family physicians in Texas. The Physician of the Day is introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and his or her name becomes a permanent part of the official legislative record. Sign up on the Physician of the Day page of TAFP’s website.
    • Join TAFPPAC – The TAFP Political Action Committee speaks on behalf of TAFP members through grassroots involvement, personal relationships with elected officials, and political campaign participation and contributions. TAFPPAC is a non-partisan political action committee that supports candidates who demonstrate support for issues important to family physicians and our patients. TAFP members can give a one-time donation or sign up to be a monthly donor on the TAFPPAC page of TAFP’s website.

  • Reminders for Primary Care Summit – Dallas attendees

    Tags: primary care summit, dallas, cme

    posted 11.5.14

    Thank you for registering for the 2014 Primary Care Summit in Dallas. TAFP is looking forward to seeing you at this year’s event.

    Registration Schedule
    Registration opens as scheduled on Friday, Nov. 7, at 6:15 a.m., in the 3rd floor foyer. The conference begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. with our CME breakfast lecture.

  • Van Winkle announces 2015 run for AAFP President-elect

    Tags: van winkle, aafp, president-elect

    At the close of this year’s AAFP Congress of Delegates, TAFP’s Lloyd Van Winkle, MD, announced his intention to run for AAFP President-elect in 2015. Van Winkle has just completed his second year of a three-year term on the AAFP Board of Directors.

    Van Winkle has practiced family medicine in rural Castroville, Texas, for almost 30 years. He is the medical director and CEO of United Physicians of San Antonio ACO. He is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and he is the health officer for Castroville and La Coste. He has served as medical director of the Medina Valley Emergency Medical Service for more than 25 years. He is an aviation medical examiner and a quality reviewer for Texas Medical Foundation Health Quality Institute, and he provides expert testimony for Texas Medical Liability Trust, defending family physicians in medical malpractice litigation.

    A member of the AAFP since 1985, Van Winkle has served as a delegate and alternate delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates for the past 10 years. He also has served on the AAFP Commission on Membership and Member Services, and as chair of the AAFP Committee on Communications and the Subcommittee on Awards.

  • Reminders for Primary Care Summit – Houston attendees

    Tags: primary care summit, houston, cme

    posted 10.14.14

    Thank you for registering for the 2014 Primary Care Summit in Houston. TAFP is looking forward to seeing you at this year’s event.

    Registration Schedule
    Registration opens as scheduled on Friday, Oct. 17, at 6:15 a.m., in the 3rd floor foyer. The conference begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. with our CME breakfast lecture.

  • Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day

    Tags: abuse, domestic violence

    posted 10.9.14

    During 2013, 119 women were killed in Texas by their male intimate partner, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. This included 21 women who had previously taken steps to leave their violent relationships, and 55 children who were present for and watched their mothers die.

    Not only is October Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but Oct. 8, 2014, was designated as Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day, educating health care professionals about the importance of screening for domestic abuse. I spent the day at a meeting of the Task Force on Domestic Violence listening to three survivors speak about their experiences with family violence. Established by House Bill 2620 in the 83rd Texas Legislature, the task force is charged with researching the impact of domestic violence on mothers’ mortality and health, and infants’ mortality, health, and development.

  • Hydrocodone combinations become Schedule II drugs on Oct. 6

    Tags: hydrocodone, prescription, drug enforcement administration

    posted 9.12.14, updated 10.2.14

    Pharmaceuticals containing hydrocodone will be reclassified from Schedule III to Schedule II as of Oct. 6, 2014. The Drug Enforcement Administration published the final rule making the change in the Federal Register in August. The change is intended to curb abuse of hydrocodone, but it will require some changes in the way physicians and pharmacists handle these prescriptions. After the reclassification:

    • Prescriptions for hydrocodone combinations cannot be faxed or called in to a pharmacy; instead they must be written on the official Schedule II prescription form issued by the Department of Public Safety, or they may be submitted electronically directly to the pharmacy;
    • Hydrocodone prescriptions cannot be refilled; they will require a new prescription for each order; and
    • Physicians will not be able to delegate authority to prescribe hydrocodone combinations to nurse practitioners and physician assistants outside of hospital or hospice settings.

  • Get connected: Take advantage of the many social and educational networking opportunities your Academy has to offer

    Tags: hawkins, president's letter, social media, continuing professional development, cme

    By Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc.
    TAFP President, 2013-2014

    Electronic opportunities to connect with friends, family, and colleagues abound. I can communicate very quickly with people I know and people I don’t know. I can broadcast ideas by blogging and I can post photos or see others’ photos in many ways. This is both exciting and frightening. Who am I reaching? Who knows these details about me?

    As a family physician most of my contact is with individual patients or their families, essentially one on one. Therefore these new opportunities are not familiar to my normal social intercourse. I’m so used to confidentiality and preserving my professional image that in my middle age, I find myself uncomfortable reaching out.

  • Hospice experience can be rewarding

    Tags: van winkle, perspective, hospice

    By Lloyd Van Winkle, M.D.

    It used to be that when I had a patient whose health was declining and he or she was nearing the end of life, I would direct the patient to hospice care.

    Hospice would take responsibility for the patient’s care, and I would receive updates by phone. I might go by and see the patient once or twice. Ultimately, I would be notified that the patient had died, and I would call the family to offer my condolences.

  • Menacing melanoma

    Tags: kadir, cancer, melanoma, screening

    By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
    Private practice, Austin

    As our patients head to the beach for their final flirt with summer, let’s remind ourselves that melanoma is on the march. The incidence of melanoma of the skin, the most commonly fatal form of skin cancer, is increasing faster than any other potentially preventable cancer in the United States.

    Remembering risk factors
    Major risk factors necessitate a full body skin exam and teaching of the thorough skin self exam by a family physician or dermatologist.

  • Things to know for Annual Session and Scientific Assembly

    Tags: annual session and scientific assembly, san antonio, cme, tafp foundation, self assessment module, mobile app, app

    On behalf of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians staff, thank you for registering for the 65th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly! We have an eventful conference planned for you and we look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.

    Please visit the TAFP registration desk to pick up your materials including your CME syllabus, registration packet, and official program, which includes schedules, maps, and other information about the conference.

    TAFP Mobile App
    Download TAFP’s new year-round app to use on your smart phone, tablet, or computer. Search TAFP in your app store or Play Store and install the app for free, or simply go to The app has all schedules, faculty information, maps, CME handouts, and special events at the touch of a finger. Once inside the app, click the 65th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly logo to access materials for your time in San Antonio.

  • Slow medicine: Taking time to practice the art of family medicine

    Tags: hawkins, president's letter

    By Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc.
    TAFP President, 2013-2014

    Do you ever think that your day is going slowly? Do the mundane features of patient care make you feel slow? Or perhaps, by contrast, you feel it is going too fast, like that proverbial hamster on the treadmill.

    My treadmill involves dealing with difficult patients, paperwork requests, and the idiosyncrasies of the electronic health record. In spite of the speed, however, I don’t always feel efficient. Even when I feel I can complete a patient encounter quickly, this does not feel like a triumph. The speed comes at the expense of a lack of connection with the patient, or less fulfilment with medicine than I had expected.

  • Let’s be bold for family medicine

    Tags: hurley, perspective

    By Janet Hurley, M.D.

    It’s time for boldness in family medicine. As I turned to hug Jim Martin, M.D., at the last TAFP C. Frank Webber Lectureship, I was touched by his heartfelt concern. He and other dedicated leaders before me have endeavored to set the stage for family medicine to have its time in the spotlight. Yet many family physicians do not seem willing to demonstrate the leadership skills or “fire in the belly” during this pivotal time of health care change.

    In the past, family physicians were seen as feeder mechanisms for the procedural and hospital cash machine. We were disrespected in the academic centers and our value was minimized by payers and the Relative Value Scale Update Committee. Specialists desired our referrals for lucrative procedures that are reimbursed under an inflated fee-for-service price. The hospitals have been hiring family physicians to ensure referral sources to their admission beds, imaging centers, and operating rooms. But the day of reckoning is coming for that payment methodology.

  • Reminders for C. Frank Webber & Interim Session

    Tags: c. frank webber lectureship, conference, symposium, interim session, cme

    The 2014 C. Frank Webber Lectureship is upon us and we are looking forward to seeing you there! Below you will find important information to make sure everything during the event goes smoothly for you.

    Registration hours
    Thursday, Feb. 27 | 9:00 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Friday, Feb. 28 | 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Saturday, March 1 | 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

    C. Frank Webber Lectureship registration on Thursday and Friday will be located on the main floor in the hotel lobby outside the Omni Ballroom. The CME breakfast lecture begins at 7 a.m. on Friday.

  • CVS kicks butts!

    Tags: kadir, tobacco, tar wars

    By Lamia Kadir, M.D.
    Private practice, Austin

    For a split second, I just couldn’t believe it when I heard it. CVS Caremark, one of the largest pharmacies in America, stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores. The move took effect October 2013.

    The first chain of national pharmacies to take tobacco products off the shelves, their bold public health decision has been touted by the AAFP, AMA, American Cancer Society, and even President Barack Obama.

  • Making the grade

    Tags: hawkins, president's letter, report, quality

    By Clare Hawkins, M.D., M.Sc.
    TAFP President, 2013-2014

    As I reviewed my children’s report cards recently, I found myself proud of their achievements. I also began reflecting on whether these grades were an accurate reflection of their past performance or current abilities. I know they worked very hard and deserved credit, and that being graded was a great deal of stress for them. Ultimately I found myself being thankful that I was no longer in the educational system where I was frequently under pressure to perform and be graded by teachers and professors. Then I stopped myself and considered the last report I received from a health plan which outlined my performance as a doctor. Unfair! How do they know how good I am? They don’t really know how well I perform.

    Increasingly we physicians find that health plans, governments, or employers are evaluating the care that we provide. Do we know what they are measuring? Will it affect my payments? Will it affect my employment?

  • Banding together helps small practices achieve PCMH recognition

    Tags: van winkle, perspective, patient-centered medical home

    By Lloyd Van Winkle, M.D.

    When the topic of practice transformation comes up, one of the most frequent questions we hear is, “What about the little guy?” How are small practices expected to overcome the additional work and expense needed to achieve patient-centered medical home recognition?

    This is a valid question, but the answer might be simpler than you think. For my small practice, the solution was to find strength in numbers. And that didn’t require anything as complex as joining an accountable care organization or an independent practice association.