NCFMR and NCSM Resolutions
How to Write a Resolution
Each year, the National Congress of Family Medicine Residents (NCFMR) and the National Congress of Student Members (NCSM) convene during the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students to discuss issues of vital interest to residents and medical students. This discussion generates resolutions, which often influence American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) policy, programming, and activities. The following information will help you be a part of this process.
Step One: Do some research
Research is the first step in developing a resolution. Solid data must be presented to support the requested action. It is also imperative to put the resolution in the context of the issue’s history. This history can include current and past AAFP actions and policies, as well as the actions and policies of other organizations. Information about AAFP policies, positions, and current activities is available on AAFP.org. During the National Conference, this information is also available outside the NCFMR and the NCSM rooms, as well as in the Resolution Writing Center.
To assess the merits of a proposed resolution, consider the following questions:
1. How many residents, students, family physicians, or others have special interest in this issue/topic (e.g., many, some, a few)?
2. Is the recommendation within the AAFP’s scope or authority?
The AAFP was founded to promote and maintain high quality standards for family physicians. Its mission is to improve the health of patients, families, and communities by serving the needs of members with professionalism and creativity. Major functions of the organization include the following: promoting the science and art of family medicine; providing advocacy, representation, and leadership for the specialty; preserving and promoting high quality, cost-effective health care; protecting the right of family physicians to perform medical and surgical procedures for which they are qualified by training and experience; and providing responsible advocacy and education for patients and the public in health-related matters.
3. Is the recommendation relevant to any of the AAFP’s four strategic objectives?
- Advocacy – Shape health care policy through interactions with government, the public, business, and the health care industry.
- Practice Enhancement – Enhance members’ abilities to fulfill their practice and career goals.
- Education – Promote high quality, innovative education for physicians, residents, and medical students that encompasses the art, science, evidence, and socioeconomics of family medicine.
- Health of the Public – Assume a leadership role in health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic disease management.
4. Does the recommendation have financial implications for the AAFP (e.g., costs associated with research, meetings, production, travel, staff time)?
Financial implications should not prevent you from proposing specific action; however, it is essential to estimate the approximate level of funding needed to implement your resolution and to understand the potential impact on existing resources.
5. Has this recommendation already been addressed by the NCFMR or the NCSM? If so, what action was taken?
Resources available to answer to these questions include the following:
- NCFMR Actions by year:
- NCSM Actions by year:
- Summary of actions of the 2012 AAFP Congress of Delegates (COD)
- AAFP policies
- AAFP clinical policies and recommendations
- AAFP vision, mission, and strategic plan
- AAFP Bylaws
- NCFMR Rules of Order and governing principles(11 page PDF)
- NCSM Rules of Order and governing principles(12 page PDF)
These resources are available during the National Conference in the Resolution Writing Center.
6. Is the AAFP currently addressing this issue/topic?
- Search keywords related to the issue/topic on AAFP.org.
- Review the most recent actions of the AAFP COD, paying special attention to the annual reports of the AAFP Board of Directors and various commissions.
- Talk to AAFP staff, current resident and student leaders, and board members. During the National Conference, resident and student leaders and board members are available at facilitated group discussions held on Thursday afternoon, as well as in the Resolution Writing Center.
Step Two: Write the resolution
What are the basic rules for writing a resolution?
Tips on resolution writing are provided during the joint session of the NCFMR and the NCSM on Thursday.
Facilitated group discussions are held following the joint business session on Thursday afternoon. These groups provide an ideal forum for generating and refining resolutions regarding continuing professional development, education, advocacy, health of the public and science, membership and member services, and quality and practice (i.e., practice advancement).
Rule #1 – Every resolution must include the following:
- Title: Should be clear and concise and convey the resolution’s issue/topic
- “Whereas” clause(s): Should explain the rationale for the resolution by doing the following:
- Identifying a problem or need for action
- Stating whether it is time sensitive or urgent
- Describing the problem or situation’s effect on residents, medical students, the AAFP, and/or the public
- Indicating whether the proposed policy or action will alter current AAFP policy
- “Resolved” clause(s): Should be clear and concise and positively state the action or policy called for by the resolution
- Name(s) of the author(s)
Rule #2 – Only one issue should be addressed in each resolution. If multiple “resolved” clauses are included in a resolution, each clause should be related to the resolution’s central issue.
Rule #3 – Every resolution should be concise and accurate.
- Limit the number of “whereas” clauses to the minimum required to provide reasonable support for the “resolved” clause(s).
- Avoid “resolved” clauses that are too long or complex. Split a complex idea into multiple concise “resolved” clauses to avoid confusion.
- Check cited facts and verify the source of the data.
- Focus on essential, objective information, limiting the use of adjectives or adverbs that communicate an editorial opinion.
Rule #4 – Each “resolved” clause in the resolution must stand alone. The “resolved” clause is the only part of a resolution that is officially adopted, so these statements must be complete and understandable apart from any of the other text in the resolution.
- Avoid use of acronyms or abbreviations in “resolved” clauses.
- Avoid references to the “whereas” clause(s) or other “resolved” clauses in the resolution.
Step 3: Submit the resolution
What is the process for submitting a resolution?
Please note: Resolutions are not accepted in advance of the National Conference. However, authors are encouraged to begin the research and writing process prior to arriving at National Conference.
Deadline: Resolutions must be submitted by 6 p.m. on the first day of the conference (Thursday), to the staff of the Congress Business Office. Resolution authors must stay in the office until staff approves the submission.
Resolutions may be typed and printed out or submitted as an electronic file on a USB flash drive. Each resolution must be accompanied by a completed Resolution Submission Form(1 page DOC); this form is also available in the Resolution Writing Center. Staff will not accept a resolution without a submission form that includes all requested information. The form may be completed by hand, or it may be completed electronically and printed out or submitted on a USB flash drive.
A limited number of computers are available in the Resolution Writing Center and the Candidate Writing Room, but resolution authors are encouraged to bring a laptop and USB flash drive to type and transfer resolutions. Printers are available to print resolutions and submission forms.
What happens to a resolution after it is submitted?
- Each resolution is assigned to a reference committee. At the publicized time, the committee hears testimony on its resolutions. The author of the resolution being discussed is given an opportunity to testify first. Following this testimony, anyone with an interest in the resolution may offer input.
- Following the hearing, the reference committee discusses the testimony and drafts a report that includes a recommendation on each resolution. The committee will do one of the following:
- Recommend that the resolution be adopted;
- Recommend that the resolution not be adopted;
- Offer a substitute resolution for adoption; or
- Recommend that the resolution be included on a “reaffirmation calendar” because it reflects current policy or is being addressed by existing programs and services.
- The reference committee presents its report during the final business session. This report summarizes the hearing discussion and the rationale for the committee's recommendations. The report includes a “consent calendar” that lists the committee's recommendations on all resolutions.
- All recommendations listed on the consent calendar are voted on in one vote. However, one or more items may be extracted for debate. Extracted items are voted on separately.
What happens to resolutions that are adopted by the NCFMR/NCSM?
- Following the National Conference, the Commission on Education (COE) reviews all resolutions adopted by the NCFMR and the NCSM. This review identifies resolutions to be directed to the Congress of Delegates, which convenes in late September/early October. The COE also makes recommendations for referral of other resolutions adopted by the NCFMR and the NCSM to the appropriate bodies (e.g., AAFP Board of Directors, AAFP commissions). The chair of the AAFP Board of Directors reviews the COE’s recommendations. Once the recommendations are approved, the resolutions are distributed to the appropriate bodies for consideration.
- Most resolutions are referred to AAFP commissions. Resolutions may be considered through online discussions, or they may be held until the commissions meet in person in February and June in Kansas City, MO. Information on the status of the resolutions acted upon by the NCFMR/NCSM is available on AAFP.org.