How to Write a Resolution
Each year, the National Congress of Family Medicine Residents (NCFMR) and the National Congress of Student Members (NCSM) meet to discuss issues of vital interest to residents and medical students. This discussion generates resolutions, which often influence Academy policy and activities. If you would like to be a part of this process, the following information will be useful.
Research is the first step in developing a resolution. Solid data must be presented that support the requested action. In addition, it is imperative to cast the resolution in light of the overall historical development of the issue. The history of an issue can be approached both with respect to current AAFP actions and past AAFP policies, as well as the positions and actions of other organizations. During the conference, resources will be available to provide information on the Academy’s policies, positions and current activities.
To assess the merits of a proposed resolution, consider the following questions:
1. Is this issue/topic of special interest to many, some or a few residents, students, family physicians, others?
2. Is the recommendation within the scope or authority of the AAFP?
The AAFP was founded to promote and maintain high quality standards for family physicians. Major purposes of the organization include: promoting the science and art of family medicine; providing advocacy, representation and leadership for the specialty; preserving and promoting quality cost-effective health care; preserving the right of family physicians to engage in medical and surgical procedures for which they are qualified by training and experience; and providing responsible advocacy for and education of patients and the public in health-related matters. The mission of the Academy is to improve the health of patients, families and communities by serving the needs of members with professionalism and creativity.
3. Is the recommendation relevant to the Academy’s strategic objectives?
The following are the four AAFP 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 cost implications for the Academy (in terms of research, meeting costs, production charges, travel expenses, staff time, etc.)?
Consider the financial implications associated with your resolution. Cost factors should not prevent you from proposing specific action; however, it is essential to recognize the general level of funding needed to implement your resolution and the potential impact on existing resources.
5. Has this recommendation already been addressed by the resident and/or student congress? If so, what action was taken by the referral body?
The following information is available on the resource tables outside the congress rooms, in the discussion group facilitator and reference committee orientation packets and in the Resolution Writing Center (Room 2212): NCFMR/NCSM Resolution Grids for 2012 and NCFMR/NCSM Recommendations and Action Books (1975-2011).
6. Is the Academy currently addressing this topic/issue?
- Consult the AAFP’s Web site.
- Review the most recent transactions of the AAFP Congress of Delegates, paying special attention to the annual reports of the Board and various commissions. This information can be accessed on the AAFP’s Web site.
- Consult current AAFP resident and student leaders, Board members and Academy staff. Board members and resident and student leaders will be available during the discussion groups and in the Resolution Writing Center.
What are the basic rules for writing a resolution?
Rule #1 -- Every resolution must have a title, “whereas” clause(s) and “resolved” clause(s) and carry the author’s name(s). The title should be clear and concise and convey the general idea of the topic of the resolution. The “whereas” clauses should explain the rationale for the resolution -- identify a problem or need for action, address its timeliness or urgency, its effects on residents, medical students, AAFP and/or the public at large and indicate whether the proposed policy or action will alter current AAFP policy. The “resolved” clause(s) are the meat of the resolution. These clauses should be clear and concise and positively state the action or policy called for by the resolution.
Rule #2 -- Give special attention to the following: 1) Limit the number of “whereas” clauses to the minimum required to provide reasonable support for the “resolved” clause(s). 2) Carefully check the facts and verify the data used. 3) Limit the use of adjectives or qualifying adverbs which are considered “editorial opinion” and focus on the essentials.
Rule #3 -- If a resolution is adopted, the only part that remains is the “resolved” clause(s). Consequently, the “resolved” clause(s) must stand alone. This means that you should be able to read these statements separately and have them make sense. Avoid using acronyms. There should be no pronouns used (e.g., it, they, we, etc.) that refer to other resolved statements or the “whereas” clause(s). Each “resolved” clause should be perfectly clear without the rest of the document present.
Rule #4 -- Less is more – if “resolved” clauses become too long or involved, the intent may be lost. It is better to split an idea into two “resolved” statements than to create a single clause that leaves everyone confused.
Rule #5 -- ONLY ONE ISSUE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED IN EACH RESOLUTION. If multiple “resolved” clauses are included in a resolution, each “resolved” clause should be related to the central subject of the resolution.
Rule #6 -- Before submitting a resolution, carefully weigh the merits of your proposal by considering the following questions:
- Is this issue/topic of special interest to many, some, or a few members, family physicians, others?
- Is the recommendation within the scope or authority of the AAFP?
- Is the recommendation relevant to the Academy’s strategic priorities?
- Does the recommendation have cost implications for the Academy (in terms of research, meeting costs, production charges, travel expenses, staff time, etc.)?
- Has this recommendation already been addressed by the resident or student congress? If so, what action was taken by the referral body?
- Is the Academy currently addressing this issue/topic?
What is the process for submitting a resolution?
The basic format of a resolution and sample resolutions are attached. Tips on resolution writing will be offered during the joint session of the resident and student congresses on Thursday, August 1.
The deadline for submitting resolutions at the 2013 National Conference is Thursday, August 1, at 6:00 p.m. A special submission form will be available in the Resolution Writing Center. The Resolution Writing Center will be equipped with computers and a variety of resource materials. [Note: Resolutions are not accepted in advance of the National Conference.]
Time will be reserved on the afternoon of Thursday, August 1 for facilitated group discussions. These groups provide an ideal forum for generating and refining resolutions.
What happens to a resolution when 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 is allowed to testify first if he/she wants to. Then anyone with an interest in the resolution being discussed may offer input.
- Following the hearing, the reference committee discusses what was said and develops a report that includes a recommendation on each resolution. The committee will either recommend that a resolution be adopted, not adopted, offer a substitute resolution for adoption or recommend the resolution be included on a “reaffirmation calendar” because it reflects current policy or is being addressed in 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 an index page, listing all items with the committee's recommendations. This is a consent calendar. Based on the consent calendar, reference committee reports are voted on in one vote. However, any item or items may be extracted for debate. If items are extracted, those items are voted on separately.
What happens to resolutions that are adopted by the resident and student congresses?
- Following the National Conference, the Commission on Education (COE) reviews all resolutions adopted by NCFMR/NCSM. The purpose is to identify resolutions to be directed to the Congress of Delegates, which convenes in late September/early October. The COE also makes recommendations about referral of the remainder of the NCFMR/NCSM resolutions to the appropriate bodies (e.g., Board of Directors, commissions). The Board Chair reviews these recommendations. Once the recommendations are approved, the resolutions are distributed to the appropriate bodies for consideration.
- The vast majority of resolutions are referred to commissions. Resolutions may be dealt with through online discussions or held until the commissions meet in February and June in Kansas City. To access information on the status of the resolutions acted upon by the resident and student congresses in 2013, go to http://www.aafp.org/nc.