2017 NCCL

Delegates Address Diversity in AAFP Leadership, Resident Retention

May 02, 2017 01:30 pm Chris Crawford Kansas City, Mo. –

Megan Guffey, M.D., M.P.H., an international medical graduate delegate from Manson, Wash., testifies during a reference committee hearing at the National Conference of Constituency Leaders about a resolution she co-authored that asked the AAFP to add a seat to its Board of Directors to represent the member constituencies.

During the 2017 National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL) held here April 27-29, chapter delegates from the five constituency groups -- women; minorities; new physicians; international medical graduates (IMGs); and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) physicians and those supportive of LGBT issues -- acted on resolutions considered by the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance.

Issues discussed during the April 28 reference committee hearing included adding more diversity to the AAFP Board of Directors, encouraging graduating residents to maintain their Academy membership and providing members with physician wellness resources.

Adding Member Constituency Board Seat

First, a substitute resolution adopted during the April 29 business session asked the AAFP to add a seat to its Board of Directors to represent the women, minority, IMG and LGBT member constituencies. The representative would be elected to a one-year term during each annual NCCL -- just as the new physician Board member is now.

Story highlights
  • During the 2017 National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL), chapter delegates acted on resolutions considered by the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance.
  • Issues discussed during the April 28 reference committee hearing included adding more diversity to the AAFP Board of Directors, encouraging graduating residents to maintain their Academy membership and providing members with physician wellness resources.
  • Among other measures considered by the reference committee, NCCL delegates adopted a recommendation that asked the Academy to survey international medical graduate members to identify possible causes of declining attendance at national meetings.

During the reference committee hearing, Megan Guffey, M.D., M.P.H., an IMG delegate from Manson, Wash., and co-author of the resolution, said the intent of the measure was to add a seat that the four constituencies that currently aren't represented on the Board could share. Guffey said she recognized that previous resolutions on this topic had not been adopted and that there was a cost associated with the added seat.

Guffey explained that there is a lot of turnover in the AAFP's IMG membership, which she viewed as significant. "This could be due to underrepresentation and a feeling that we don't fit in here," she said. "I think we need to change that."

"In terms of women, minorities, LGBT (constituency members) and IMGs, we don't necessarily see ourselves reflected in the leadership, and until we do, we're not going to feel empowered," Guffey said.

Jay Lee, M.D., M.P.H., of Venice, Calif., who attended the conference as a speaker, spoke in support of the resolution, referencing a Harvard Business Review report that said diversity is important for an organization -- particularly on its Board. "It provides opportunities for different points of view and it strengthens the resolve with which decisions are being made at the Board level," he said.

Lee said during its history, the AAFP has had only three women and one black president. "We have a long history and I don't think this is an accurate reflection of who we are as a membership," he said.

He further explained that the opportunity for a minority constituency physician to sit on the Board might fuel that individual's career success and increase the odds of attaining additional leadership roles within the AAFP.

"It would be a very wise decision for the Academy to add this Board seat for these constituencies," Lee concluded.

Retaining Graduating Resident Members

Another measure adopted sought to encourage graduating residents to maintain their AAFP membership.

The substitute resolution asked the Academy to develop language to help residents negotiate with their employers for support in paying state and national specialty society dues as part of their compensation and CME packages.

Po-Yin Samuel Huang, M.D., a minority delegate from Los Angeles and co-author of the resolution, said the measure was an important tool to better engage young residency graduates.

Po-Yin Samuel Huang, M.D., a minority delegate from Los Angeles, speaks about a resolution he co-authored that is intended to encourage graduating residents to maintain their AAFP membership.

Drawing on his perspective as a physician employed by Kaiser Permanente, Huang said he thinks many of his colleagues aren't interested in AAFP membership because they aren't aware of the benefits and are solely focused on their work.

"This effort could help improve retention and also increase our membership," he said.

Emphasizing Physician Well-being

Finally, one resolution that sparked lengthy discussion -- but that ultimately wasn't adopted -- called for the AAFP to highlight its physician wellness resources so that members can easily access them.

The reason for the thumbs-down? Implementation of the "ask" is already in process.

"Currently, staff is developing an online portal (scheduled to launch in September), which will contain a survey tool to aid in burnout identification, as well as information, resources and tools to support members with their well-being," the committee said in its report, drawing on background information it received regarding the Academy's Physician Well-being initiative.

The 2017 Family Medicine Experience in San Antonio also will feature a physician well-being track, noted the report, and a conference focusing on physician well-being is planned for spring 2018.

Other Issues

Among other measures considered by the reference committee, NCCL delegates adopted resolutions that asked the Academy to

  • consider giving preference to meeting and event locations with policies consistent with AAFP policies on nondiscrimination,
  • ensure gender-neutral bathrooms are available at national AAFP events, and
  • survey IMG members to identify possible causes of declining attendance at national meetings.

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