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Wednesday Oct 23, 2013

Scientific Assembly Gets High Marks From FPs, But Can We Do Better?

It's an inspiring sight when nearly 5,000 family physicians get together in one place. That was the scene last month in San Diego at the AAFP's Scientific Assembly.

One of the goals for our flagship meeting this year was for members to head home feeling connected, inspired and better equipped to care for patients. So how did we do? In our survey of attendees, nearly 88 percent of respondents said they felt better equipped to care for their patients as a result of attending, and 78 percent said they were inspired by the event. More than 96 percent said they would recommend the Assembly to their colleagues.

Those numbers are pretty good, but can we do better?

The Scientific Assembly is the nation's largest gathering of family physicians because it offers an opportunity to choose from more than 320 CME courses and earn up to 40 AAFP Prescribed credits. We're always working to enhance the already first-rate CME, but we also want to provide an experience that isn't limited to sitting in a classroom for four days.

In San Diego, we got just a taste of what is to come at future events. In addition to CME, there were learning opportunities related to topics such as contract negotiations, direct primary care, financial planning, meaningful use and more. In other words, Assembly can teach us more than clinical topics; it can improve all aspects of our practices.

Assembly also offered new opportunities to meet, or reconnect, with colleagues who share similar practice models, backgrounds or other interests. We're evaluating how to do an even better job of connecting members next year.

For the first time, we offered three general sessions that were linked -- addressing the real issues that affect family physicians, hearing the real voices from our members and offering real answersMore than seven out of 10 attendees told us those sessions were helpful.

I was honored to open the Scientific Assembly, (photo above) and express my gratitude for the opportunity to be your president this year. I talked about the importance of finding balance and the critical nature of what some are calling the "quadruple aim." In addition to the triple aim of improving patients' outcomes, health and satisfaction at a lower cost, we have to do so while attending to our own health and satisfaction.

Glenna Salsbury, the keynote speaker for the opening sessiondrew especially high marks in our surveys. She talked about the importance of understanding our purpose in life and finding joy in it. We have an opportunity, at every moment, to decide whether to stay on a positive path, said Salsbury.

We also heard from speaker Sally Hogshead, who told us how each one of us has different ways of communicating with -- and fascinating -- people. If we understand and play to our strengths, she said, our patients will be more loyal, more trusting and more likely to adhere to instructions.

My hope is that everyone leaving San Diego felt energized and proud to be a family physician. Those are two of the goals we'll be focusing on for next year. We're already looking at ways we can make our 2014 Assembly -- scheduled for Oct. 21-25 in Washington -- a can't-miss event.

You can check back here for details. Registration will open in February.

If you attended Assembly last month in San Diego, please share your thoughts below on what you enjoyed and what the Academy can do to make the experience even more valuable to family physicians.

 Reid Blackwelder, M.D., is President of the AAFP.

Posted at 03:15PM Oct 23, 2013 by Reid Blackwelder, M.D.

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