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The History of the AAFP, and Its Mission Today
The AAFP was founded in 1947 to promote and maintain high quality standards for family doctors who are providing continuing comprehensive health care to the public. Other major purposes of the AAFP include:
- To provide responsible advocacy for and education of patients and the public in all health-related matters;
- To preserve and promote quality cost-effective health care;
- To promote the science and art of family medicine and to ensure an optimal supply of well-trained family physicians;
- To promote and maintain high standards among physicians who practice family medicine;
- To preserve the right of family physicians to engage in medical and surgical procedures for which they are qualified by training and experience;
- To provide advocacy, representation and leadership for the specialty of family medicine;
- To maintain and provide an organization with high standards to fulfill the above purposes and to represent the needs of its members.
The AAFP is governed by a Congress of Delegates composed of two delegates from each of the 55 constituent chapters, as well as from resident and student groups, new physicians, and the special constituencies (women, minorities, international medical graduates, and GLBTs). The Congress meets annually immediately prior to the AAFP's Scientific Assembly and has sole power to establish policies and define principles. These policies and programs are carried out by the Board of Directors and a number of standing and special commissions and committees. Delegates to the Congress of Delegates elect the Board, which in turn appoints commission and committee members. Constituent chapters are similarly organized.
The Scientific Assembly is the AAFP's largest meeting for continuing education, drawing more than 17,000 physicians and visitors.
The AAFP was instrumental in the establishment of family medicine, a derivative of classical general practice, as medicine's 20th primary specialty. The American Medical Association's Council on Medical Education and the independent American Board of Medical Specialties granted approval to a certifying board in family medicine, the basic structural requisite of a medical specialty, on February 8, 1969. Examinations have been given annually since 1970, and recertification examinations annually since 1976.
The AAFP maintains a national headquarters in Leawood, Kansas. It publishes a clinical journal for physicians in primary care entitled American Family Physician, with a circulation of 156,000; AAFP News Now, an all-member news and features publication available online, via e-mail and by mail; Family Practice Management, a publication on practice management and socioeconomic issues; and the Annals of Family Medicine, a peer-reviewed research journal dedicated to advancing knowledge essential to understanding and improving health and primary care.
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