• A Word From the President

    We’re Integrating DEI Across Our Work

    April 28, 2022, 12:30 p.m. — It’s been quite a few months now since I turned over this blog to current AAFP President Sterling Ransone, M.D., and transitioned to my current role as Board chair, but Dr. Ransone has kindly let me borrow it back. I have news that’s too exciting to tell you any other way.

    figures of different colors

    The AAFP has selected the 10 inaugural members of the new Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness in Family Medicine, and I am honored that the board of directors selected me to lead the commission for the first three years. We’re ready to commit to the work of ensuring that DEI is at the foundation of everything the Academy does. The commission will meet in June with a full agenda that will focus on examining the DEI work that the Academy has already done and setting the commission’s scope for ongoing work.

    These efforts are crucial because they inform the Academy’s wider work. This month, for example, we observed Minority Health Month with action that included highlighting AAFP resources to help members learn about Black maternal health and a report on a new treatment protocol to improve the quality of life in Black and Hispanic patients who have asthma.

    Diversity, equity and inclusion are much more than ideals this group will work on in parallel to other efforts of the AAFP. DEI is an integral thread in everything the Academy does. It’s essential in helping medical students choose our specialty so every community in the nation has family physicians they can count on. It’s essential in understanding how we can best care for our patients, and in choosing where the Academy focuses advocacy to make sure payers and regulators give us the support we need.

    It’s also essential in bringing members together to shape what the Academy does for us. In fact, that’s a great example of what I mean when I say DEI is part of everything at AAFP. Making sure that more members have the chance to take on leadership roles was the key driver of the Board’s recent decision to change the structure and meeting schedules of Academy commissions in a way that removes unnecessary barriers to participation. Taking away those barriers will naturally lead to commissions that are more diverse, more equitable and more inclusive.

    The Academy has long addressed DEI, perhaps most noticeably through the Center for Diversity and Health Equity. Recently, however, members gave us new data to inform our efforts by answering a survey we commissioned to gauge where the organization is doing strong DEI work that we can build on, and where we need to put more attention.

    The survey results are encouraging. Respondents gave the AAFP an average DEI index score of 82.5%, higher than the other large health care organizations we were benchmarked against. Members rated us highly on DEI generally, as well as on our specific work to advance DEI.

    We also got clear guidance about where members want us to devote greater attention: developing more training and resources, sharing metrics so members can check on progress, fostering more diverse leadership, and celebrating DEI.

    Survey data is already pointing us to important goals:

    • representative community mentorship that strengthens the family medicine pipeline,
    • a competitive practice environment where we can serve to the full extent of our training,
    • new leadership opportunities,
    • diverse faculty and topics in family medicine education,
    • tools to decrease burnout, and
    • targeted work to reduce administrative complexity and boost career satisfaction.

    It’s a challenging list, to be sure. But it’s also exciting — for me; for your colleagues on the new Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness in Family Medicine; and for all the staff in our Academy. Be sure to check out the DEI page on the AAFP website https://www.aafp.org/membership/initiatives/diversity-equity-and-inclusion.html to learn more about your survey results and next steps, and to stay up to date about this important work.

    Ada Stewart, M.D., is the AAFP board chair.


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