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Wednesday Sep 25, 2019

Hitting the Road to Hear Your Stories, Find Solutions

When I was president of the Ohio AFP more than a decade ago, I heard from a group of members who were upset that our chapter had been unable to move the needle on tort reform. I arranged a meeting and drove more than 200 miles from Dayton to Cleveland to hear their concerns.

[young man pulling suitcase]

I listened to those family physicians' stories, and they were pleasantly surprised that I had made the effort to meet them on their own turf. Although phone calls or emails might have sufficed, there is value in meeting people face to face and hearing -- and seeing -- what they are experiencing firsthand.

I experienced something similar, on a much broader scale, during the past year as AAFP president-elect, when I spent roughly 200 days on the road, including more than a dozen visits to state chapter meetings. My travels took me to the "First State" of Delaware, through the scenic Appalachian Mountains, over the Ozarks of Missouri, to the deserts of Arizona, amid the snow-capped Rocky Mountains and elsewhere. At each stop, I witnessed innovative CME offerings and met members who are passionate about the scope of care they are providing for their communities and medical students who are excited about the prospect of becoming family physicians with the ability to care for any patient, anytime, anywhere.

I likely will spend as much (or more) time on the road this year in my new role as AAFP president. It is an essential element of effective leadership to be present in the trenches where battles are being waged. I can better remember your stories -- both your frustrations and successes -- when I have stood shoulder to shoulder with you in your communities. That connection is vital because members of the AAFP Board of Directors share your stories in our meetings with payers and policymakers to make sure they know how their decisions are affecting family physicians and patients.

It will be my honor to represent you this year, and I hope you will join us as we advocate for issues of importance to our specialty, including reducing administrative burden, increasing payment for primary care physicians and protecting our scope of practice.

Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones to make a difference, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a servant leader in an organization that is of great value to me, our members and the communities we serve.

The concept of giving back was instilled in me early on by my mother, who took me to church where she and other role models emphasized the importance of caring for others. I remember when kindergarten students at my elementary school were asked to donate our pennies, nickels and dimes to a campaign to help people in need in our community. I was so happy to help that cause in my small way, and that joyful feeling of fulfilling my duty to serve still drives me today.

In the nearly 30 years since I completed residency, I've had the opportunity to serve in numerous leadership and volunteer roles at the local and state levels. Today, I assume the role of president of a national organization representing more than 130,000 physicians and medical students. I hope to see you -- and hear from you -- on my journey. Together, I know we can accomplish great things.

Gary LeRoy, M.D., is the president of the AAFP. His term begins today.

Posted at 01:46PM Sep 25, 2019 by Gary LeRoy, M.D.

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