• 2021 Congress of Delegates

    Delegates Act to Expand Inclusion in AAFP’s Work

    March 4, 2022, 11:05 a.m. News Staff — The 2021 Congress of Delegates took action to make the Academy more inclusive when it met virtually recently to consider issues taken up by the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance.

    physicians looking at x-ray

    Building on written testimony offered between Jan. 7 and Jan. 14, the live conversations began in a virtual reference committee hearing conducted Jan. 22-23 and ended Feb. 4 with adoption of some of the resolutions and substitute resolutions informed by that testimony.

    Much of the discussion focused on how the AAFP and its work can better serve the Academy’s diverse membership, including a proposal from the Board of Directors that the Congress create a task force to evaluate the current qualifications and nomination process for the Academy’s elected leadership positions.

    Members who testified in the committee hearing noted that the Congress studied this issue five years earlier but did not make any changes. Supporters said it was time to reexamine the topic with a diverse panel of participants, including chapter executives and members who are not involved in governance.

    As noted in the reference committee’s report, delegates ultimately adopted a substitute resolution directing the Congress to establish a special committee and task it with submitting a report, including any recommended changes, to the 2023 Congress of Delegates.

    Delegates also adopted a resolution from the Washington chapter intended to better inform the Academy’s strategic work through a member survey on the needs of student, resident and physician members who have disabilities.

    Testimony touched on the desire of members with disabilities to connect with fellow physicians or medical students who have disabilities.

    The student and resident delegations also noted that some students who have disabilities do not identify themselves as such to avoid the stigma of disability in medicine. The reference committee noted that surveying members with disabilities to obtain accurate data is critical in informing decisions about how to best support these members.

    A resolution from the New York chapter aimed to make it easier for members to participate in conversations about proposals that the Congress of Delegates considers. Delegates adopted the resolution, which asks the Academy to allow all members to participate in reference committees remotely by submitting written testimony.

    The proposal is intended to make the COD more inclusive to physicians and students who have disabilities, and a member who has a hearing disability emphasized that it would, indeed, help such members. In addition, the student and resident delegations testified that their members would benefit from the change, as many of them are unable to travel to in-person COD meetings.

    The reference committee reported that the resolution would help increase participation in the governance process and make COD as inclusive of all member voices as possible.

    The Congress also adopted resolutions or substitute resolutions asking the Academy to

    • add a search bar to the COD section of AAFP.org so members can quickly find previous resolutions and Board reports;
    • issue an annual report to the Congress and post to AAFP.org about outcomes of resolutions that were referred to the Board the previous year;
    • report on revenue earned from pharmaceutical and medical device advertising and sponsorship, and assign a commission to explore alternatives to such advertising and sponsorship; and
    • educate members about the work of public health officers.