"I'm going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come."
-- Wilbert Harrison
The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to spread across the United States and the world, leaving in its wake extensive human loss. Today, thousands of American families are mourning the loss of loved ones who have died as a result of COVID-19. As the nation moves forward, slowly, I hope we all remain mindful of the true dangers this virus presents and take the appropriate precautions. To the thousands of family physicians on the front lines, thank you for what you are doing to provide care to your communities. Take care of yourselves -- physically and mentally.
I came to the AAFP eight years ago to join an organization and team that was motivated and resourced to fundamentally change family medicine and primary care. The national attention on primary care that exists today is unprecedented in the history of U.S. health care policy. We have accomplished significant changes in policy in the past eight years that have made family medicine better. I am proud of this work, but not blinded to the fact that our work continues.
This will be my next-to-last post. As I begin the transition into my new role as the next CEO and EVP of the AAFP this summer, the time has come to end my authorship of this blog. I will continue to write and publish, but I will do so in different ways and on different platforms moving forward. My final blog, which will post on May 26, will be an abbreviated version of a speech I had planned to give last month at the AAFP's Annual Chapter Leader Forum and National Conference of Constituency Leaders.
A moment of personal privilege: I want to start by thanking each of you, the more than 136,000 family physicians and medical students who have chosen the discipline of family medicine as your life's work. My journey with family medicine is now in its fourth decade and, although the health care system has changed dramatically over those years, the core attributes of family medicine and family physicians have not. Your commitment to health, your patients and your communities is to be commended. The consistent and unwavering commitment of family physicians to healthier patients, healthier communities and a better health care system is what makes working for the AAFP so rewarding.
I have enjoyed sharing with you the important work being done on your behalf by the AAFP and, believe it or not, I really have enjoyed and appreciated the back-and-forth we have had on a variety of issues on his blog and elsewhere. Engagement and debate make us all smarter. I am excited that my family medicine journey is continuing, and I look forward to continuing my work with, and on behalf of, each of you and family medicine.
I want to thank the state chapters, their executive leadership and their leadership teams. From day one this group has welcomed me, supported me and, on occasion, offered friendly advice on how we might do things a little differently. We have partnered on some important issues during the past eight years and, together, have driven a value-added policy agenda on behalf of family medicine across the country. The state chapter executives are a talented group of people, and I am very much looking forward to continuing our work together in my new role.
Next, I want to thank current CEO/EVP Doug Henley, M.D. In April 2012, Doug invited me to join the AAFP team, and I continue to be extremely appreciative of that phone call. I have said this previously, but it deserves repeating -- Doug Henley is one of the most consequential health care leaders of the past 50 years. I have enjoyed working under and alongside him, and I am extremely proud of the work we have done in the past eight years. Doug's vision for building a health care system that is equitable, affordable and founded on family medicine is the bedrock of our advocacy agenda and a driver of our national debate on health care reform. But, more importantly, he never let the AAFP lose sight of its core mission, which is supporting family physicians. If you haven't done so previously, you should watch his speech to the 2019 Congress of Delegates in Philadelphia, which begins about two hours and seven minutes into the video of the Sept. 23 session. It is well worth your time.
I also want to thank my colleagues at the AAFP. The Academy has a tremendously talented and dedicated staff. I have learned a great deal from them and have grown to truly appreciate the mission-driven work they do each day on behalf of family physicians. The AAFP, as an organization, has a unique culture that should be valued: a large group of people drawn to a vision and mission and focused on advancing family medicine.
And we have a lot of fun along the way. I especially want to thank David Mitchell, my colleague, collaborator and friend. David and I have collaborated on dozens of In the Trenches posts over the past six years, and his guidance, expertise and especially his patience have made this blog successful. I will never lose appreciation for his talent and his gently persuasive "You may want to consider … ," which actually means, "You can't say that!" Thank you, David.
Finally, I want to thank Lorlita Alexander. Lorlita will not be pleased that I am doing this, but we have talked almost every day for eight years, and there are few people who have contributed to my professional success on a daily basis like Lorlita has. She has been an incredible colleague who has contributed in countless ways to the betterment of the AAFP during her more than 40-year career at the Academy. Her professional contributions are plentiful, appreciated and celebrated, but I most deeply value her friendship. We have been through several highs and lows together, and I will always be grateful that she is a part of my life. The journey continues, Lorlita!
Thank you to the AAFP Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve the AAFP in this new role. I am humbled to have been selected to serve as the AAFP's EVP/CEO. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Thank you for reading, thank you for engaging, and thank you, sincerely, for what you do each and every day.
Shawn Martin is senior vice president of advocacy, practice advancement and policy.