AAFP Names Top Physician, Education and Humanitarian Advocates

Seven family physicians honored for outstanding contributions to family medicine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Friday, Oct.12, 2018

Contact:
Stephanie A. Wilken
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5221
(913) 906-6000 ext. 5221
swilken@aafp.org

NEW ORLEANS—The American Academy of Family Physicians announced the recipients of its most prestigious awards at its annual meeting this week. Seven family physicians from across the nation were recognized for their outstanding contributions to family medicine and the health of the public.

Each of these awards recognizes a family physician who has made exceptional advances in furthering the health of their communities through service and education.

- Will Cooke, MD, has been a family physician in Austin, Indiana, since 2004. Cooke was named the AAFP’s 2019 Family Physician of the Year. The award honors one outstanding American family physician who provides patients with compassionate, comprehensive care and serves as a role model in his or her community, to other health professionals and to residents and medical students.

Cooke had always planned to practice in a rural, underserved area of his home state, but he was shocked by the toll that decades of high unemployment and generational poverty had taken on his new community. There was a hunger for narcotics way out of proportion for a town of only 4,300 residents.

By February 2015, the tiny rural town of Austin found itself in the crosshairs of two deadly epidemics. The worsening opioid crisis led Austin to become what the CDC confirmed was the epicenter of the country’s most serious drug-related HIV outbreak. Not only were members of the community dying of overdoses, they were also suffering the dire consequences of sharing dirty needles. As these two epidemics raged, Cooke welcomed all people to his clinic who needed help, regardless of their illness or ability to pay.

Cooke knew he couldn’t save Austin alone. Because there were not enough health care professionals trained in HIV testing to determine the scope of the epidemic, he sent members of his own clinical team to multi-day training in Indianapolis. In addition, Cooke and his staff members participated in several week-long in-service training sessions with experienced clinicians to improve staff understanding of, comfort level with, and capability to care for people living with HIV. 

Cooke and his team at Foundations Family Medicine also provide the full spectrum of primary care services to people in Austin who might otherwise go without care. Since founding the clinic in 2004, Cooke has worked to expand outpatient services to include direct access to maternal child health, advanced diabetes care, telemedicine services, school-based clinics, integrated behavioral health, community nursing, and more. He also provides care in the local hospital, where he runs a hospitalist program, serves as an emergency department physician, and performs endoscopies and minor surgeries.

The recovery community in Austin is leading the way, and Cooke remains deeply involved in the care of people who once haunted the streets of Austin in search of their next “score.”

- Jonathan Temte, MD, was awarded the AAFP’s Public Health Award. The Public Health Award recognizes the important contributions that family physicians make to advancing the health of the public at the national, state, or local levels.

Temte is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His current research interests include viral disease surveillance in primary care, early detection of flu in schools and long-term care facilities, seasonality and epidemiology of flu and attitudes toward immunization.

Temte has served on many advisory committees to public health organizations. From 2012 to 2015, he was chair of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was the first family physician in this role.

Since 2006, Temte has chaired the Wisconsin Council on Immunization Practices. This advisory body represents clinicians, nurses, schools, health plans and local public health agencies. It reviews activities and plans of the Wisconsin Immunization Program.

Temte became the AAFP’s point person to provide accurate and actionable information and guidance on infectious disease emergencies at Assembly and FMX. Topics include bioterrorism, avian flu, Ebola and the Zika virus. He has given countless lectures on immunization, vaccine safety and evidence-based approaches to vaccine policy.

Temte has become more involved with primary care approaches to global warming and climate change. In 2014, he provided the first research presentation on climate change in the history of the North American Primary Care Research Group. In 2016, he led a NAPCRG workshop on developing a primary care research agenda on climate change. This led to the establishment of a NAPCRG Climate Change Special Interest Group.

Temte has exhibited leadership in advancing the health of the public on local, national and international spheres.

- Ann Evensen, MD, a family physician in Madison, Wisconsin, was awarded the AAFP’s Humanitarian Award. The Humanitarian Award honors extraordinary and enduring humanitarian efforts by an AAFP member, both within and beyond the borders of the United States.

Evensen is an associate professor of family medicine and the director of global health at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. Her professional interests are low-risk obstetrics, women’s health, and the intersection of primary and emergency care, including emergency obstetrics.

She was the inaugural course director and is an ongoing advisor for the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics programs in both Ethiopia and India. She has developed numerous teaching innovations and is one of the most experienced instructors in ALSO courses, which were developed at the University of Wisconsin.

Evensen is a contributing editor and author in emergency obstetrics skills for the GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute’s Manual of Prehospital Emergency Care Protocols, which is used by more than 20,000 emergency medical technicians in India.

Since 2013, Evensen has been an advisor to the inaugural family medicine residency program at Addis Ababa University School of Medicine in Ethiopia.

In 2015, she volunteered at the residency program for seven weeks as a clinical supervisor, instructor, research colleague and mentor. Dr. Evensen’s family subsidized WONCA membership for 14 Ethopian family medicine residents who wished to join.

Evensen is a board member of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Patient Safety and Maternity Care Board and the ALSO India Advisory Board.  

- Clive Fields, MD, a family physician in Houston, Texas, was awarded the AAFP’s Robert Graham Physician Executive Award. This award is reserved for an AAFP member whose executive skills in health care organizations have contributed to excellence in the provision of high quality health care and demonstrated that family physicians can have an impact on improving the overall health of the nation.

Fields is currently president of Village Family Practice, a Houston-based, multi-site practice with a team of more than 50 family physicians and other providers. He has been spearheading value-based care at Village Family Practice since the early 1990s.

Village Family Practice is recognized as one of the nation’s highest performing groups by CMS for its quality of care. It is also recognized as an NCQA Level 3 medical home.

In 2013, Fields parlayed his expertise as both a clinician and physician executive and co-founded VillageMD. This organization provides data analytics, physician-based care coordination and support services to more than 2,500 primary care physician partners across six states. VillageMD also provides family physicians access to value-based reimbursement contracts that reward physicians for delivering high-quality, cost-effective care.

Fields has successfully navigated the ever-changing payment models, from HMO-capitated fees, to fee-for-service, to value-based payments. He played a major role in the creation of the Accountable Care Coalition of Texas and continues to serve on its board of directors.

Fields has changed the way health care is delivered in the Houston area. He has served as a mentor to countless family physicians and continues to precept medical students. He has worked across the health care system to bring primary care to the forefront of heath care and inspire future generations of family physicians.

- Ted Epperly, MD, a family physician in Boise, Idaho, received the Thomas W. Johnson Award. The award recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to family medicine education in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education spheres.

Epperly is president and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho in Boise. It is a large Federally Qualified Teaching Health Center composed of six FQHC clinics, three Accredited Council of Graduate Medical Education family medicine residency programs and four fellowships.

Epperly has contributed more than 30 years of leadership and guidance toward the advancement of family medicine education on local, regional and national stages. He served as president and board chair of the AAFP, in addition to serving on numerous committees and commissions on education.

Epperly is a current member of the ACGME, which has responsibility for all residency and fellowship training programs for more than 125,000 residents and fellows of all specialties in the United States. He currently serves as the governor-appointed chairman of the board for the Idaho Healthcare Coalition, which is in charge of helping transform health care for the state of Idaho.

Epperly has lectured internationally on primary care and written more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and publications, including an award-winning book on health care reform. In this book, “Fractured: American’s Broken Health Care System and What Must Be Done to Heal It,” Epperly draws on decades of experience as a family physician. He identifies gaps and disparities in our current system and proposes an integrated, accessible patient-centered approach to health and medicine.

- Jay Siwek, MD, a family physician in Silver Spring, Maryland, was awarded the John G. Walsh Award. This award honors those individuals whose dedication and effective leadership has furthered the development of family medicine. It recognizes long-term dedication, rather than any single significant contribution, and effective leadership toward furthering the development of family medicine. This award is not granted on a regular basis, but is awarded at the discretion of the AAFP Board of Directors. Siwek was unable to attend the ceremony and will formally accept the award at 2019 FMX in Philadelphia.

After nearly 30 years as editor of American Family Physician, Siwek stepped down in January of 2018. He was the first family physician to serve as editor and pulled together a team of family physician editors. Together they created the evidence rating system called the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy or SORT. It is used by AFP and several other family medicine journals.

The mission of AFP is to provide readers with high-quality clinical information they can use to take better care of their patients. New features were developed and successfully implemented.

These include STEPS, for new drug updates; Point of Care for evidence-based decision support and POEMS for the best research from other journals. AFP remains the most-read family medicine journal.

In addition to his editorial leadership, Siwek has been a leader in academic family medicine. He served as chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine for 10 years and currently serves as vice-chair and professor.

Siwek has served on numerous local, regional and national committees and task forces. He has provided extensive service to the AAFP and to the District of Columbia chapter.

In 2000, Siwek received the AAFP Award of Merit, now the AAFP Award for Distinguished and Meritorious Service to Family Medicine. In 2001, he received the Lynn and Joan Carmichael Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Recognition Award.

Siwek was also a leader in educating the public. He served as health columnist for The Washington Post, Newsday and Woman’s World. He was the tour physician for the National Symphony Orchestra.

- James Boulger, PhD, was awarded Honorary Membership in the AAFP. This honor is designated for persons who have rendered outstanding service to the AAFP or the medical profession, or for distinguished members of the AAFP who have retired from practice.

Boulger is a distinguished university teaching professor in the Department of Family Medicine and BioBehavioral Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth.

For nearly five decades, Boulger has played a key role in the development of the medical school and its mission to educate medical students who go on to practice family medicine in rural Minnesota and American Indian communities.

Boulger is a PhD psychologist who recognized the unique value that family physicians bring to rural communities. He knows that lasting relationships between a rural physician and a patient are essential for effective and compassionate care.

Boulger has designed and maintained some of the earliest and longest-running medical school courses. He places his students in rural communities where they live with a physician and his/her family. The students learn first-hand the breadth of practice and the personal relationships enjoyed by rural physicians.

Boulger also recognized that mental health services are often lacking in rural communities. He directed the medical school’s Center for Rural Mental Health Studies and led the effort for tele-mental health in rural Minnesota. Within the Center, patients can meet remotely with qualified therapists.

Boulger understands the unique strength of each Minnesota community, the changing health care landscape, and the family physicians who serve those communities. He has dedicated his professional life to recruiting, training and nurturing medical students destined for family medicine careers in these rural communities.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 131,400 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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