Family medicine thrives in The Woodlands

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Family medicine thrives in The Woodlands

Report from TAFP’s 2015 Annual Session and Primary Care Summit

Family physicians and other health professionals from around the state gathered in The Woodlands Nov. 12-15, 2015 for TAFP’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit. This was TAFP’s most well-attended conference ever, with almost 600 total registrants. Attendees networked, earned CME, shaped TAFP policy at committee and commission meetings, and celebrated the specialty of family medicine.

As always, attendees had opportunities to learn about a variety of topics during the scientific portion of the conference. Participants could also attend three Self-Assessment Module workshops Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, on childhood illnesses, geriatric care, and heart failure. The National Procedures Institute offered two popular courses, Casting and Splinting, and Sideline Management Assessment Response Techniques.

The TAFP Foundation held a cocktail cruise on The Woodlands Waterway to benefit the Tamra Deuser, MD, Endowment. Thank you to Baylor Scott & White; The Dallas County Chapter of TAFP; Lewis Foxhall, MD; Memorial Hermann Health System; Texas Medical Association; and Texas Medical Liability Trust for being Gold Level sponsors. Thank you also to Cory and Melissa Gerdes, MD; Nancy and Tim Lambert, MD; and ProAssurance for being Silver Level sponsors, and to Edwin Franks, MD, and Lisa and Jake Margo, Jr., MD, for being Bronze Level sponsors.

The CME general session opened Friday morning with a presentation by TAFP CEO Tom Banning on the state of the Academy and of family medicine during this time of great change. The rest of the weekend’s CME included topics on risk evaluation and mitigation strategies for extended-release and long-acting opioid analgesics, common teen eating disorders, an ethics talk on cancer survivorship, a discourse on Medicare’s new payment structure after the repeal of the SGR, and much more. AAFP board member Jack Chou, MD, of California addressed attendees Sunday morning on advocacy, education, and family medicine for the nation’s health.

Clare Hawkins, MD, gave a TAFP update during Friday’s Member Assembly Luncheon. Delegates from TAFP’s local chapters elected Brett Johnson, MD, and Christina Kelly, MD, to serve as at-large directors, and Emily Briggs, MD, to serve as the new physician director on the TAFP Board of Directors. Farron Hunt, MD; Shivum Agarwal, MD; and Chis Trinh were elected to serve as the special constituencies director, the resident physician director, and the medical student director respectively.

TAFP’s 2015 Award Recipients and New Officers

Saturday’s Annual Business and Awards Lunch began with members present voting to adopt the TAFP bylaws changes. Next, TAFP’s top honors were announced. Here’s a list of this year’s winners.

Physician of the Year: Antonio Falcon, MD
Falcon returned to his hometown in the Rio Grande Valley after completing medical school in Houston and a residency in Waco. He has been practicing in Rio Grande City since 1980 and remains a staple of the community, helping to bring the first specialists to town in the mid-1980s because patients could not afford the drive to McAllen for appointments. Falcon also helped the community receive an additional nursing home, dialysis centers, and a permanent MRI. He co-chaired Governor Perry’s Proposition 12 campaign in 2003, recently served on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, and was a presidential appointee to the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission. He is also a current member of the Texas Health and Human Services Council, mentors medical students through the Texas Statewide Family Medicine Preceptorship Program, and serves as a clinical assistant professor for UTMB.

After accepting the award, Falcon gave a little advice to his colleagues. “Always be kind to the patients. It’s just incredible how one act of kindness can be worth more than 10 prescription drugs. Don’t ever forget to tell your patient something nice about them when they are in that office with you. And don’t forget to touch them. Sometimes we forget how important the human touch is.”

Read more on Falcon’s life at

Physician Emeritus: H. David Pope, Jr., MD
After graduating high school second in his class, getting his medical degree from Tulane, an Air Force internship, flight surgeon school, and a residency at a charity hospital, Pope fulfilled his calling and became a practicing family physician in 1961. Over the years he worked in solo practice, a multi-specialty clinic, a 100-bed Catholic hospital, Christian missions worldwide, as medical director for numerous nursing homes, and more. He was vital in the creation of the Texas A&M Family Medicine Residency program in Bryan, and TAFP’s Brazos Valley Chapter. Pope still travels to the Texas-Mexico border multiple times a year for Christian missions, serves as Physician of the Day during the Texas Legislature every session, and is active in his church and community.

Patient Advocacy Award: Blair Cushing, DO
Cushing completed a public policy rotation with TAFP as a medical student during the 84th Texas Legislature, helping develop policy options for legislators to consider involving physician workforce. Her efforts resulted in the passage of Senate Bill 18 by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, which prioritized the creation of new primary care residency positions and funding for the Texas Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship Program. Cushing graduated from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and is a family medicine resident at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, California.

Public Health Award: Brian Smith, MD, MPH
Smith served as the Regional Medical Director for the Texas Department of State Health Services Region 11 for 17 years, and for five additional years as the communicable disease clinician. In this role, he was responsible for 19 counties in South Texas, dealing with tuberculosis, diabetes, ebola, and other cross-border issues, and provided emergency preparedness for many hurricanes along the coast. Before joining DSHS, he practiced medicine in South Texas community health centers, with the Cherokees and Choctaws in Oklahoma, and in various countries including Guatemala and Nigeria.

Exemplary Volunteer Teaching Award: Adrian Billings, MD, PhD
Billings is a professor for both the UTMB and Texas Tech Permian Basin, and has been a preceptor in the Texas Statewide Family Medicine Preceptorship Program for many years, precepting about 100 medical students total. He recently became the program’s director. He also hosts residents in the Big Bend area, working alongside them to demonstrate true rural family medicine. He is known for incorporating the students and residents into every aspect of his practice. His community has seen three former trainees return to the area to practice.

Exemplary Teaching Award: Nora Gimpel, MD
Gimpel is an assistant professor of family and community medicine and chief of the Community Medicine Division in the Department of Family Medicine at UT Southwestern. She is the director of numerous training programs at UT Southwestern including a predoc training program and a postdoc training program in community medicine. Gimpel is also on the advisory board for the Texas Area Health Education Center East DFW Region.

Special Constituency Leadership Award: Christina Kelly, MD
Kelly has been active in AAFP since her time as a medical student and after moving to Texas in 2011, she immediately got involved with TAFP. After serving the National Conference of Special Constituencies as new physician co-convener, she was elected convener for the newly renamed National Conference of Constituency Leaders. While her time as a new physician is now over, her nominator is sure Kelly will remain a strong, female leader to both TAFP and AAFP.

TAFP Foundation Philanthropist of the Year: Nancy and Dr. Patrick Leung
Leung has practiced family medicine in Midland since 1980 where Nancy, a registered nurse, manages their office. They want to attract more medical students to the family medicine, ensuring that the next generation of doctors includes enough family physicians for the population. Earlier this year the Leungs made a generous donation to the TAFP Foundation to fully endow the Patrick Leung, MD, Medical Student Scholarship. It was awarded this summer to a student who had just finished his first year of medical school and participated in a family medicine preceptorship.

TAFP Political Action Committee Award: Troy Fiesinger, MD
Fiesinger is a longtime advocate for family medicine, working hard to develop local relationships with his elected officials. Not only does he serve as a key contact, but he is also regarded as an expert in health policy. He is active with TAFP’s Political Action Committee and currently serves on AAFP’s Commission on Governmental Advocacy.

Following the presentation of awards Chou installed TAFP’s 2015-2016 officers. They are President Ajay Gupta, MD; President-elect Tricia Elliott, MD; Vice President Javier “Jake” Margo, Jr., MD; Treasurer Janet Hurley, MD; and Parliamentarian Rebecca Hart, MD.

In his inaugural address, Gupta thanked the many physician leaders who have gone before him and several mentors who have guided him along his path. He encouraged family physicians to become involved in the Academy for the sake of the specialty as well as their own fulfillment. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve as president of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians,” he told the audience. “I will provide all my effort to serve our state and national health care system. It will take all of us working together to improve health care in America. I’m excited to lead the path into a new chapter.” Read an excerpt of his address in this issue’s President’s Column on page 6.

Mark your calendars now for upcoming symposia. The 2016 C. Frank Webber Lectureship will be held April 15-16 at the Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark. The Texas Family Medicine Symposium will be June 3-5, 2016 at La Cantera Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, and next year’s Annual Session and Primary Care Summit will be Nov. 4-6, 2016 at The Westin Galleria Dallas. For the full 2016 schedule, go to