Inclusivity has been a hallmark of the AAFP National Conference of Special Constituencies since its inception 24 years ago, and this year's event, held here May 1-3, carried on that tradition.
International medical graduate delegate F. George Leon, M.D., of Bethesda, Md., addresses a resolution seeking an alternative certification pathway for FPs already trained and certified abroad. "In my view, what's happening is that a lot of nurse practitioners and PAs are becoming primary care providers not through academia, but through legislation," Leon said during the May 3 business session.
State chapter delegates representing the Academy's five special constituencies -- new physicians, women, minorities, international medical graduates (IMGs) and physicians who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) or who support GLBT issues -- along with other meeting registrants came together to hash through a number of resolutions dealing with education-related issues.
One such measure, for example, sought to boost the number of educational resources targeted toward family physicians who practice as hospitalists. Specifically, the resolution's authors asked the Academy to
- provide more accredited resources for FPs who primarily practice in the inpatient setting,
- offer a hospitalist track at the AAFP Assembly and
- collaborate with other appropriate organizations to provide AAFP CME credit for educational offerings on this topic.
In testimony during the Reference Committee on Education hearing on May 2, IMG constituency delegate and resolution co-author Eltanya Patterson, M.D., a member of the Kentucky AFP now doing locum tenens work, said that she didn't want to have to attend other organizations' events to stay current on hospital medicine CME.
- Delegates to the 2014 National Conference of Special Constituencies tackled a wide range of education-related issues.
- Among resolutions the delegates adopted was one that calls for the AAFP to include a hospital medicine CME track as part of the AAFP Assembly.
- Other measures adopted by delegates call for expanded transgender education for family physicians and resources to help FPs better care for patients with physical or intellectual disabilities.
In a subsequent interview, Patterson expanded on her previous comments, noting that diabetes, for example, can have different implications for physicians practicing in an inpatient versus outpatient setting -- and most certainly for those in the ER.
"We have to have so many Prescribed credits for re-election (to AAFP membership), but as hospitalists, we need Prescribed credits that are relevant to us," she said. "What is the point of me doing CME in the management of diabetes in the outpatient setting just to get Prescribed credits when it's not useful to me in practice?"
Patterson said she has been frustrated at the paucity of CME sessions offered -- even at the AAFP Scientific Assembly -- that are relevant to her area of practice.
"There's a lot of family physicians going into this field because hospital medicine is a developing area. We don't want to be excluded. There are hospitals that already have bylaws that exclude family physicians from being hospitalists," she said.
"We can do that work. We are trained to do so, but we need the right information so we can stay on the cutting edge."
Members of the reference committee noted in their report that they were not clear on the intent of the first resolved and, after a review of existing resources on the AAFP website and in American Family Physician, decided not to include that portion of the original resolution. They also determined that the process of developing CME that is eligible for AAFP Prescribed credit already permitted other organizations to pursue this goal through a formalized application process and by meeting other FP-specific criteria.
They agreed, however, with the suggestion that the Academy offer a dedicated hospital medicine educational track at Assembly, and offered a substitute resolution containing only that piece of the original measure. Delegates voted to adopt that substitute during their May 3 business session.
Other resolutions that delegates adopted also embodied this theme of inclusivity, including one measure that called for expanded transgender education for family physicians and another that asked the AAFP, in conjunction with the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM), to promote the development of a self-assessment module on caring for GLBT patients as part of the ABFM's Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians program.
GLBT delegate and resolution co-author Bruce LeClair, M.D., M.P.H., of Evans, Ga., testified on the latter measure, saying that he had actually been approached by students who wanted to set up a free clinic devoted to GLBT care.
"I was miserably unaware of their (these patients') needs," LeClair told the reference committee. "As I talked with other physicians, I found I was not alone in that respect."
Another co-author of the resolution, GLBT delegate Jonathan McCaleb, M.D., of Reno, Nev., noted that the educational deficit in this area starts early. "There's a lack of residency education for this population," he said. "A self-assessment module might create a better opportunity for members to advance their knowledge base."
Other resolutions adopted include
- a measure calling for the Academy to "explore the development of resources to educate and aid family physicians in the sensitive care of individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities,"
- a resolution asking the AAFP to promote and incentivize members to participate in programs designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medical schools, and
- a measure directing the AAFP to work with the ABFM and other certifying bodies to "investigate an alternate pathway to family medicine certification that may include a shortened period of United States residency for physicians who are already trained and certified in family medicine in other countries."
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