Members work to advance family medicine and TAFP’s strategic initiatives

Tags: texas family physician, strategic plan, president's letter

By Melissa Gerdes, M.D.
TAFP President, 2010-2011

I devote this column to our Academy members and friends. The Texas Academy of Family Physicians is, after all, only as good as our membership.

As you will recall, TAFP held a strategic planning retreat in August 2010. We began with the anticipation that we would design a three-year plan, but it soon became a one-year plan. The group identified so many items needing urgent attention that the timeframe necessarily shortened. A physician champion paired with a TAFP staff person to design and implement each action item. Now, seven months later at Interim Session, we are well on our way to accomplishing our goals. The entire strategic plan can be viewed on

Continuing medical education continues to be a major Academy focus for our members. An additional Primary Care Summit was held in Dallas this past year. We have experienced record attendance at our consistently well-reviewed CME events. Self-Assessment Module workshops (part of the Maintenance of Certification process for board certification) have been conducted all over the state. I thank our physician champion, Clare Hawkins, M.D., for the SAMs.

Members have asked for more education in the areas of practice management and the direction of health care reform in the changing marketplace. Greg Johnson, M.D., is championing a practice management curriculum which will debut at the 2011 Annual Session and Scientific Assembly. I invite you to join us for this special event in Dallas this July.

Also at Annual Session and other TAFP symposia will be TAFP’s practice management consultant, Bradley Reiner. Bradley is available year-round as a consultant with a plethora of services and advice for members. More information can be found on

To date, Tom Banning, paired with a local family medicine leader, has traveled to half a dozen local chapters to educate members on health care reform and current political issues affecting family medicine. These visits have been very well received. TAFP appears to be one of the few groups to dialogue with physicians in a proactive way regarding politics and medicine. In addition to these outstanding efforts, I want to thank the education staff at the Academy. They consistently deliver high-quality CME offerings that are sensitive to members’ needs.

Creating frequent and useful communication with members is a key action area. Please check out our website for a large variety of resources. In addition to practice management help is a section titled “Medical Home,” which provides up-to-date information on this developing concept. Information on accountable care org­anizations can be found there as well. I want to thank TAFP’s Communi­ca­tions Department and the Commission on Member­ship and Member Services for constantly improving member communications.

TAFP deeply values new member involvement. This is evidenced by the level of commitment to student and resident involvement. To date, the TAFP Foundation has awarded more than 100 student and resident scholarships. I want to thank all those recipients for their participation. Also, our members are more active than ever, founding and raising funds for new scholarships every year. These innovative actions and commitment to fostering a bright future for our discipline are vital.

Physician champions Kaparaboyna Ashok Kumar, M.D., Tricia Elliott, M.D., and Troy Fiesinger, M.D., are leading efforts to streamline licensing for international medical graduates and fostering student interest in family medicine. I have been visiting each medical school in the state as well. I am very impressed with the students and their questions regarding health care reform and how it will impact their future. I am bringing them the message about what TAFP may offer them as students.

Finally, we must not forget legislative action items. We have had a very busy year at the Capitol. Tom Banning and our excellent team of lobbyists have kept us up to date on proceedings. Our critical issues include primary care workforce preservation and development, public health and graduate medical education funding, scope of practice, and collective bargaining.

I want to thank all the members who participated in our Legislative Action Day in conjunction with Interim Session. Your voices make an impact. Keep up the good work dialoging with your legislators on our action items. The Primary Care Coalition, represented by myself; Sue Bornstein, M.D. executive director of the Texas Medical Home Initiative; Robert Jackson, M.D., of the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians; Greg Sheff, M.D., of Austin Regional Clinic; Tricia Elliott, M.D., from UTMB Galveston; and Jim Lukfarh, M.D., of the Texas Pediatric Society visited with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst regarding two bills he introduced in the Senate about Medicaid ACO pilots. The meeting went well and we will continue to provide input to the governor’s office on these bills.

I want to give a special thank you to Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, M.D., a third-year family medicine resident at the Conroe Family Medicine Residency Program, who spent a semester studying health care policy as the James C. Martin, M.D. scholarship recipient. She produced a wonderful paper titled, “The Question of Independent Diagnosis and Prescriptive Authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Texas: Is the Reward Worth the Risk?” The document details training differences between physicians and nurse practitioners, physician and NP distribution in the state, and implications for Texas’ primary care workforce. We were honored to hear her presentation at the legislative affairs meeting at Interim Session. We are very proud to be able to provide our residents with such learning experiences and extremely pleased that residents are committed to helping the discipline of family medicine.

The momentum family medicine has in Texas going forward is exciting and exhilarating. Each and every member is vital in achieving our vision. I am privileged to work with such members and friends every day. Thank you all for your efforts. There are many more champions and work ongoing through the Academy. Please visit the website at to view.

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