Although the Reference Committees on Organization and Finance and Education had short lists of resolutions to work through, delegates still managed to ensure there was vigorous debate on several issues.
Jay Lee, M.D., testifies during the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance about the importance of keeping the AAFP leadership pipeline full by sending new physicians to the NCSC.
For example, during testimony at the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance, delegates debated the wisdom of the AAFP providing funding for new physician delegates to attend the National Conference of Special Constituencies (NCSC). Joseph Gravel Jr., M.D., president of the Massachusetts AFP, noted that small chapters have limited funds to send delegates to NCSC, and he is concerned that the conference needs new blood.
AAFP member Jay Lee, M.D., of Long Beach, Calif., said such a move would provide states with some flexibility. "It helps small chapters develop a leadership pipeline," said Lee, pointing at the number of AAFP leaders who have come up via the NCSC.
Delegates agreed that the NCSC is an important pipeline for AAFP leaders and adopted the resolution as part of the consent calendar.
- Delegates and members at the Reference Committees on Organization and Finance and Education discussed several issues, including the AAFP providing funding for new physician delegates to attend the National Conference of Special Constituencies.
- Delegates also focused on the ins and outs of a policy that does not allow AAFP candidates to campaign during caucus meetings at the Congress of Delegates.
- Meanwhile, the Reference Committee on Education discussed maintenance of certification and communication problems with the ABFM.
During the reference committee hearing delegates also debated the wisdom of allowing candidates to speak at caucus meetings during the Congress of Delegates. William Woodhouse, M.D., a delegate from Pocatello, Idaho, pointed out that the Western United States is uniquely challenged by its geography, making it difficult for members to hold their caucus anywhere but at the annual Congress of Delegates. He and other delegates were concerned that the policy prohibiting candidates from campaigning during caucuses meant many regional leaders could not participate and offer their knowledge on issues.
"This is nothing more than a gag order," said Oregon delegate Margaret Hayes, M.D., from Portland, during testimony before the Congress. We are missing important input that candidates can provide, she added.
AAFP Speaker John Meigs, M.D., of Centreville, Ala., pointed out during the Congress that he thought delegates were misinterpreting the rules. Candidates can attend caucuses and they can discuss issues, he said. But if they are asked to do a presentation as a candidate, that is something they cannot do. It does not mean they cannot address resolutions.
In the end, delegates voted to adopt an amended substitute resolution that allows candidates to discuss issues within their respective caucus meetings during the Congress of Delegates.
Participants in the Reference Committee on Education offered mixed testimony about a resolution regarding fairness in the maintenance of certification process. Board certification seems to be a moving target, said Virginia delegate Kurtis Elward, M.D., of Charlottesville. Some physicians are trying to do a good job on the certification process, he noted, but there is a lack of clarity in the process.
Alternate delegate Douglas Curran, M.D., of Athens, Texas, said the last time he took the boards it was quite a struggle. "It's become a testing opportunity rather than a learning opportunity, and we've got to make it a learning opportunity," he said.
However, John Bucholtz, D.O., a delegate from Columbus, Ga., noted that as a former member of the board of the ABFM, he knows that most FPs put recertifying off until the last minute. "Most members choose to block out communication," from the ABFM until they are ready to recertify, he said.
Members of the reference committee pointed out that staff members from the AAFP and the ABFM are forming working groups to facilitate communication between the organizations. In the end, delegates voted as part of the consent calendar to not adopt the resolution.