Family docs have a ball at TAFP’s 60th Annual Session

Tags: cme, symposium, business meetings, annual session and scientific assembly, report, event

Family docs have a ball
at TAFP’s 60th Annual Session

By Kate McCann

More than 350 physicians joined TAFP staff and leaders to celebrate the family of family medicine at the 60th Annual Session and Scientific Assembly in Arlington. Amid fun and fellowship, Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and a treasure hunt, family physicians from around the state earned up to 24.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and nearly 40 AAFP Prescribed Credits, shaped Academy policy at the TAFP committee and commission meetings, learned about all facets of the medical industry in the Exhibit Hall, and explored the family-friendly city.

The scientific portion of the conference gave attendees the opportunity to receive quality continuing medical education credits in a variety of ways: through the two-day Stress ECG Testing Workshop presented by the National Procedures Institute, the Self-Assessment Module Workshop on Maternity Care to aid board-certified physicians in their maintenance of certification process, and a variety of lectures spanning Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The lectures opened with an update on the national academy led by AAFP leaders Leah Raye Mabry, M.D., speaker of the AAFP Congress of Delegates, and Roland A. Goertz, M.D., AAFP Director and candidate for AAFP President-elect. Other CME lectures featured topics such as type II diabetes and pain management presented by returning favorites Louis Kuritzky, M.D., and Charles Reasner, II, M.D. A surprise crowd pleaser came Sunday morning as David Peura, M.D., gave an engaging lecture on the management of IBS and chronic constipation.

The Academy supported family medicine research through the 2009 Student, Resident and Community Physician Poster Competition held on Friday. Researchers could enter in three categories: primary research, evidence-based review or case report. First place in the primary research category for family physicians went to Daly Dietrick, M.D., and Sally Weaver, M.D., from the McLennan County Medical Education and Research Foundation for their poster, “The effects of weekly fasting on blood lipid levels.” The first place in primary research for residents went to Natalia Gutierrez-Chefchis, M.D., a community medicine fellow at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Nora Gimpel, M.D., for their poster, “Establish and evaluate the effectiveness of group visits for Hispanic diabetic patients in a residency clinic.”

Gutierrez-Chefchis has worked on the project since her third year of residency and says that a grant she received from the TAFP Foundation in 2008 allowed her research group to enhance the study by providing healthy refreshments, a salsa aerobics instructor, educational materials and pill boxes, as well as research support. “It has been very hard work, but winning the poster competition just reassured me that hard work has a lot of rewards.” From these findings, they have developed other research projects on health literacy levels of providers and staff. Resident poster competition winners receive cash prizes, and students and physicians receive plaques.

At the Annual Business and Awards Lunch on Saturday, the 2009 awardees for TAFP’s top honors were unveiled and the 2009-2010 officers assumed their new posts. The recipients were Larry Karrh, M.D., of San Antonio, Texas Family Physician of the Year; past TAFP President and AAFP Vice President Glen Johnson, M.D., of Houston, Physician Emeritus; Rep. Garnet Coleman and Rep. Warren Chisum, Patient Advocacy Award; Rep. José Menéndez, Innovation in Health Care Policy Award; Gary Mennie, M.D., TAFPPAC Award; Douglas Curran, M.D., Presidential Award of Merit; Linda Siy, M.D., TAFP Foundation Philanthropist of the Year; and Shobha Rao, M.D., Exemplary Teaching Award.

In his acceptance speech at the awards lunch, Karrh told the audience about his experiences as a family physician. “Family medicine is rewarding. It’s also demanding, but where else in life can you experience the joy of a birth, the miracle of unexpected cure, the satisfaction of helping multiple families, while having the honor of helping a patient leave this world, all in the same day?”

He continued to talk about how men and women are redefining, reengineering and fully dissecting the health care industry in debates in state capitols and Washington, D.C. “As they do so, my prayer is that they will fully recognize the added value, compassion, skills and expertise brought to the industry by family medicine. Furthermore, that they would appropriately, judiciously, fairly and fully reward the skills, knowledge and quality of our specialty. Then, so that patients would benefit, that they would move over, get out of the way and let us do our job.”

Attending as the AAFP invited guest, Mabry installed the new TAFP officers who will lead the Academy in 2009-2010. The new TAFP officers are President Kaparaboyna Ashok Kumar, M.D., F.R.C.S., of San Antonio; President-elect Melissa Gerdes, M.D., of Whitehouse; Vice President Troy Fiesinger, M.D., of Sugar Land; Treasurer I. L. Balkcom, IV, M.D., of Sulphur Springs; and Parliamentarian Clare Hawkins, M.D., of Baytown.

In Kumar’s first presidential address, he shared the goals he has set for his term. Speaking from his experience as a leader in the family medicine residency program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, he expressed his desire to increase the number of medical students choosing to enter family medicine. “This is not just because we love our specialty, but it is good for the health of the country. We must invest our Academy’s time and resources, along with our members’ personal efforts to help students and residents see the rewards of becoming a family physician.”

He challenged all TAFP members to become ambassadors for family medicine. “I am sure many of you have had mentors or have been inspired by someone in your life. Provide the same kind of inspiration to young people in your community.”

Once again this year, TAFP combined the Town Hall meeting with the meeting of the Commission on Legislative and Public Affairs. Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington, along with Rep. Mark Shelton, M.D., a pediatrician from Fort Worth, discussed health care issues they addressed during the 81st Legislature and their hopes for the interim. These included Medicaid and CHIP funding, the Texas Department of Insurance sunset, graduate medical education and health care workforce, and efforts to reduce Texas’ high rate of uninsured.

Davis recognized the important role of family physicians when advocating for their patients. “We all know and you know, because the patients you see and what they’re going through, that there is no more important issue to them than their health care costs. You are to be commended in educating those of us elected to these positions to do something about that. I will continue to work through the interim and I look forward to working with all of you.”

The star event occurred Saturday night as the President’s Party kicked off at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. TAFP members and their families welcomed the new TAFP president to office with a super celebration featuring great food, stadium tours, souvenir photos with two Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and final bids on items in the TAFP Foundation silent auction.

It’s never too early to mark your calendars for other TAFP symposia where you can expect bigger and better educational programs, informative topics and great events. The 2009 Primary Care Summit is approaching quickly and will be held in Houston Oct. 23-25. The 61st Annual Session and Scientific Assembly will be held in San Antonio July 21-25, 2010.