The long-awaited family medicine reunion
Report from the TAFP 2021 Annual Session and Primary Care Summit
Words by Samantha White and photos by Jonathan Nelson
Family physicians and other health professionals from around the state gathered in The Woodlands, November 5-7, for TAFP’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit. A total of 349 registrants networked, earned CME, shaped TAFP policy at committee and council meetings, and celebrated the specialty of family medicine. Attendees had opportunities to learn about a variety of topics during the CME portion of the conference and earn up to 18 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Participants attended two Knowledge Self-Assessment Module workshops Friday and Sunday on heart disease and behavioral health care. The National Procedures Institute also offered their popular course on allergy testing and immunotherapy.
The TAFP Foundation held an exclusive dinner Friday at Kirby’s Steakhouse with proceeds benefiting the Family Medicine Resident Scholars Program.
Friday morning’s opening keynote speaker was Clare Hawkins, MD, MSc, West Region Medical Director for Aspire Health in Houston, who spoke on palliative care. The rest of the weekend’s CME included topics on vaccine hesitancy, anxiety disorder, cardiac disease, human trafficking, osteoporosis, and much more. AAFP speaker, Ada Stewart, MD, of South Carolina, provided an update on the national academy on Sunday morning.
Emily Briggs, MD, MPH, gave a TAFP update during Tuesday’s virtual Member Assembly, and delegates from TAFP’s local chapters elected new members of the board. Jennifer Liedtke, MD, will serve as new physician director; Jeffrey Urieto, MD, will serve as advocate for diversity and health equity; Lane Aiena, MD, and Brian Jones, MD, CPE, will serve as at-large directors; Kendra Williams, MD, will serve as resident director; and Madeline Hazle will serve as student director.
TAFP’s 2021 award recipients
TAFP’s top honors were announced at Saturday’s annual TAFP Awards Lunch. Here’s a list of the 2021 winners.
Troy Fiesinger, MD, accepts the Texas Family Physician of the Year Award.
Physician of the Year: Troy Fiesinger, MD
Troy Fiesinger, MD, is the medical director for Village Medical in Houston, running their care management and house call programs. He is also a member of the Physician Executive Council and the Clinical Outcomes Committee at Village Medical. Throughout his distinguished career, Fiesinger has been very active in organized medicine, including working his way through TAFP officer positions, culminating in his year as TAFP president in 2012-2013. He is also a delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates, serves in the TMA Interspecialty Society, and is often called on to testify in front of legislators to help advance TAFP’s advocacy goals.
“It takes a very specialized skillset to work in both clinical and administrative roles, and Troy manages to thrive in both,” TAFP Immediate Past President Jake Margo, MD, said at the awards ceremony. “Not only is he a compassionate and caring family physician in the exam room, but his many administrative roles over the years have allowed him to engage with and educate providers across greater Houston.”
One of Fiesinger’s nominators, Lindsay Botsford, MD, MBA, considers him a thought leader and innovator, saying he embodies the true spirit and character of a family physician, with a strong commitment to clinical care and a willingness to help others.
Physician Emeritus: Leah Raye Mabry, MD
Leah Raye Mabry, MD, is now retired but had a long and distinguished career in and around San Antonio. She practiced in Pleasanton for many years and spent over a decade as associate program director at Christus Santa Rosa Family Practice Residency Program. Mabry spent many years of her career helping residents build leadership skills, teaching them to be comforting and compassionate physicians for patients walking through difficult times.
Mabry also has a specific interest in parliamentary procedure and was involved for decades in multiple parliamentarian associations. She was active for many years in the TAFP Alamo Chapter, and worked her way through TAFP’s officer positions, serving as president in 1997-1998. She was also quite active in the national academy, actively participating in many committees and commissions. In 2004 Mabry was elected vice speaker of the AAFP Congress of Delegates, and later served as speaker.
She has not only been a very active member of both TAFP’s Political Action Committee and Foundation, but also caused the Foundation to create new cumulative donor levels to recognize her unsurpassed generosity.
Presidential Award of Merit: Family physicians across Texas
Though typically given to an individual by the outgoing president, Amer Shakil, MD, decided to honor all family physicians in Texas this year, for the countless hours they’ve put in while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physicians like Lane Aiena, MD, who fought for personal protective equipment for his Huntsville colleagues, and for the vaccine in his county. Physicians like James Mobley, MD, MPH, and Li-Yu Mitchell, MD, who serve their communities as local public health authorities. Physicians like Erica Swegler, MD, who served on TMA’s COVID Task Force and made time to discuss masks and vaccines for media outlets.
Shakil wanted to recognize residents and faculty who stepped up and took over inpatient service during COVID surges, like Ike Okwuwa, MD, at Texas Tech in Odessa and Mark Nadeau, MD, at UT San Antonio. And family physicians like Briggs, who took time away from her full-scope New Braunfels practice to speak about vaccines to anyone and everyone willing to listen. Physicians like Russell Thomas, DO, MPH, and Alyssa Molina, MD, MPH, who offered monoclonal antibody treatments to slow the hospitalizations, and JP Santiago, MD, who engaged with school board members on masking in schools to keep kids safe.
Shakil says that these members, and all physicians in Texas who work daily to protect their patients and communities, make him proud to be a family physician.
Amanda Mohammed, MD, accepts the Humanitarian Award.
Humanitarian Award: Amanda Mohammed, MD
Amanda Mohammed, MD, practices family medicine at Oak Street Health in Dallas, and is volunteer faculty at UT Southwestern.
Mohammed has a long history of working and volunteering for humanitarian efforts both close to home and around the world. She currently serves on the Young Professionals HIV/AIDS Advisory Council for The Resource Center Dallas, helping to fundraise and providing opportunities for life skills, leadership development, peer support, and education for LGBTQ youth.
Having been an active member of numerous mission projects, associations, and advocacy campaigns, Mohammed traveled with Refuge International in 2018 to serve a remote community on the border of Belize and Guatemala. There, she treated many patients for infections, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems, and more.
Patient Advocacy Award: Rep. Toni Rose
Rep. Toni Rose is serving in her fifth term in the Texas House of Representatives where she advocates for constituents residing in portions of southeast Dallas.
“Throughout her legislative service,” Margo said, “Representative Rose has been instrumental in securing funds for a new state mental health facility in the DFW area, fully funding the Texas HIV/AIDS Medication Program, and extending Medicaid health care benefits for new mothers postpartum from 60 days to six months.”
“I appreciate each and every one of you for your commitment to improving access to primary care and working to reduce preventable illness,” Rose said in a pre-recorded acceptance video. “You’re making health care better for all Texans. Thank you.”
Ronald Tyler, Jr., DVM, MS, accepts the Public Health Award.
Public Health Award: Ronald Tyler, Jr., DVM, MS
Ronald Tyler, Jr., DVM, MS, is head of the Department of State Health Services Public Health Region 11 Zoonosis Control, which serves 19 counties in South Texas and addresses health threats on both sides of the international border.
In 2016, Tyler created the South Texas Tropical Medicine and Vector Borne Disease Conference, which provides continuing education for physicians, nurses, veterinarians, animal control officers, pesticide applicators, social workers, sanitarians, and more. He also worked closely with Cameron County Public Health officials to identify the county’s first locally acquired Zika case in 2016, preventing further spread of the virus. He has coordinated his community’s response to a number of other threats including Chagas, rabies, and West Nile Virus.
Exemplary Teaching Award (Full-Time): Fareed Mahmood Khan, MD
Fareed Mahmood Khan, MD, is an Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he has taught since 2008. He is also the Associate Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program there, where he helped to transform the program and has had a great impact on the success of its residents.
“A colleague who nominated Dr. Khan says that no circle is too small when it comes to his capacity to educate,” Margo said. “Whether that’s navigating the health system on behalf of his parents, giving his personal cell phone number out to his patients, or listening to the opinions and ideas of students and fellow faculty members, Dr. Khan is always willing to not only teach, but listen and learn as well.”
Robert Youens, MD, accepts the Foundation Philanthropist of the Year Award.
TAFP Foundation Philanthropist of the Year: Robert Youens, MD
Robert Youens, MD, is now retired but previously practiced in Weimar, and for many years was an Assistant Professor at UTMB Galveston. He is also quite the active community member, participating with the Weimar Independent School District, Weimar Rotary Club and Booster Club, and the Colorado Fayette Medical Society.
“He got involved with TAFP almost 20 years ago,” TAFP Foundation Board of Trustees President Linda Siy, MD, said at the awards ceremony. “He worked his way through the officer positions to become president in 2008. In addition to his leadership, he’s been a very generous financial supporter. He’s a monthly donor and is at the Trailblazer level of giving in our cumulative donor program.”
In his acceptance speech at the awards lunch, Youens said, “The Foundation supports scholarships for students and residents, and it supports research. It’s important to our specialty that we have our own body of research and I’m proud of the Academy and thereby the Foundation supporting this fundamental principle of our specialty, which is family medicine research.” After all, Youens explains, “family physicians are guardians of science.”
Installation of officers
TAFP’s newly installed officers from left: Treasurer Terrance Hines, MD; Parliamentarian Lindsay Botsford, MD; President Mary Nguyen, MD; and President-elect Emily Briggs, MD.
Following the presentation of awards, Dr. Stewart installed the 2021-2022 TAFP officers. They are President Mary Nguyen, MD; President-elect Emily Briggs, MD, MPH; Treasurer Terrance Hines, MD; and Parliamentarian Lindsay Botsford, MD.
Mary Nguyen, MD, is installed as TAFP President.
“As we address the problem of health care, we need to remember what drew us to medicine in the first place. Remember the physicians that carried the title of physician before us,” Nguyen said in her inaugural address. “I’m here as a wife, a mother, and a physician. I’m a refugee here to give back to the country I have adopted. As the new president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, I’m fully vaccinated and ready to go.”