• Black History Month

    Striving for Diversity and Equality in Family Medicine

    February 10, 2021, 1:40 pm News Staff —To commemorate Black History Month, the Academy recently noted some of the many historical achievements and contributions from Black physicians and health care professionals to the practice of medicine.

    physician having a conversation with female patient

    Today, the AAFP takes a look inward to highlight some of the Academy’s longstanding efforts toward promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in the specialty.

    1965: In April, the Congress of Delegates of the (then) American Academy of General Practice, in a discussion on equal rights for Academy membership, adopts a resolution that, among other things, states that the Congress “is unalterably opposed to the denial of membership in county and state chapters of our Academy to any duly licensed physician in the family practice of medicine because of race, color, religion, ethnic affiliation or national origin.”

    1968: The Academy adopts a resolution identical to the 1965 COD resolution that emphasizes the Academy’s opposition to discrimination that would deny membership on racial or ethnic grounds.

    1970: The Academy adopts a resolution requesting a change in the bylaws that makes membership in the National Medical Association equivalent to membership in a constituent association of the American Medical Association as an eligibility requirement for Academy membership.

    1971: The AAFP adopts an amendment to its bylaws stating that prospective members “must be eligible to be a member” of the constituent state or provincial medical society of the AMA or Canadian Medical Association of the state, territory, or province in which they practice, or hold membership in their country’s recognized medical society. The addition of the phrase “be eligible to” makes it possible for minorities who were not allowed to become members of some state medical societies to still become members of the AAFP.

    1979: The Academy adopts a resolution that calls for the establishment of a Committee on Minority Health Affairs. In its first decade of operation, the committee creates a highly circulated audiovisual presentation titled “Family Practice in the Inner City,” recommends that the Academy determine the racial and ethnic origins of the membership in future demographic surveys and develops a project for Family Health Month designed to focus on health problems in the Black community.

    1985: In response to concerns about underrepresentation in the medical workforce, the Academy adopts a policy that encourages family physicians to serve as positive role models and take an active interest in the educational aspirations of their young patients, especially those from populations that are underrepresented in medicine.

    1989: The Academy adopts Health Care for All, a policy with the overarching goal of ensuring health care coverage for everyone in the United States.

    1990: The AAFP holds its first Policy Conference of Women, Minority and New Physicians, allowing these constituency groups to interact, learn about AAFP activities and provide opinions on issues of concerns. The meeting is eventually renamed the National Conference of Women, Minority and New Physicians.

    1990: The AAFP adopts a revised policy statement on opposition to discrimination that reads: “The AAFP recommends for consideration for membership in chapters of the AAFP any student or duly licensed graduate of an ACGME-approved family practice residency program irrespective of race, color, religion, gender, ethnic affiliation or national origin.”

    1992: The Academy adopts a policy that calls for the active recruitment of minority students at all levels, beginning in elementary school, to increase the number of minorities in family medicine and increase the number of minorities in faculty positions.

    1993: The AAFP Congress of Delegates approves a bylaws amendment that seats two delegates each from the constituencies of women, minorities and new physicians.

    1996: The Committee on Minority Health Affairs’ activities are transferred to the Committee on Special Constituencies.

    1996: The Academy adopts a policy on physician discrimination stating, among other things, that “hiring, credentialing and privileging decisions for physicians should be based solely on verifiable criteria.”

    1998: The AAFP adopts a bylaws amendment stating that minority physicians will be seated in the Congress of Delegates through the 2010 annual COD meeting.

    2001: Warren Jones, M.D., then serving as a captain in the U.S. Navy, become the first Black member of the Academy to serve as president of the AAFP.

    2003: The Academy adopts a wide-ranging policy that addresses a number of service-related topics, including prioritizing the recruitment and development of physicians who will practice in rural and urban underserved communities, and support for initiatives that result in medical students and residents choosing family medicine careers in rural, minority and underserved population areas.

    2003: The AAFP Board of Directors approves the creation of a student liaison to the Student National Medical Association.

    2005: The AAFP adopts a policy stating that the organization will “position itself in a leadership role in creating a medical workforce reflective of the patient populations family physicians serve.”

    2013: The AAFP, in conjunction with the AAFP Foundation, American Board of Family Medicine, Association of Departments of Family Medicine, Association of Family Practice Residency Directors, North American Primary Care Research Group and Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, launches Family Medicine for America’s Health, an initiative designed to, among other things, provide timely and cost-effective care for all patients and reduce health disparities throughout the country.

    2014: The AAFP adapts the AMA’s “Doctors Back to School” program, which is designed to encourage young people from underrepresented minority groups to consider family medicine as a career option.

    2015: The annual meeting of the National Conference of Women, Minority and New Physicians is officially renamed the National Conference of Constituency Leaders.

    2017: Following the results of an AAFP member survey, the Academy establishes the Center for Diversity and Health Equity. A major initiative of the center is The EveryONE Project, a comprehensive resource that provides members with tools and materials to advocate for health equity, promote workforce diversity and reduce health disparities.

    2018: To support culturally appropriate, patient-centered care and reduce health disparities, the Academy adopts a policy that recommends educating physicians about implicit bias and developing strategies to address the issue.

    2019: In April, the AAFP Board of Directors adopts a position paper, “Advancing Health Equity by Addressing the Social Determinants of Health in Family Medicine.”

    2019: In September, Gary LeRoy, M.D., who operates a practice in Dayton, Ohio, and also serves as an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, officially becomes the second Black person to serve as president of the AAFP.

    2019: The AAFP Board of Directors approves a policy stating, among other things, that the Academy opposes institutional racism in all its forms, and supports family physicians to actively work to dismantle racist and discriminatory practices and policies in their organizations and communities.

    2020: The Academy’s Board of Directors adopts a policy on race-based medicine that outlines its opposition to the use of race as a proxy for biology or genetics in clinical evaluation and management and in research.

    2020: The Academy’s Board of Directors adopts a policy stating that continuing educational materials, including those pertaining to patient education and continuing medical education, should promote cultural proficiency, be sensitive to the issues of diverse populations of patients and physicians, and address specific health issues and disparities as they relate to diverse populations.

    2020: Ada Stewart, M.D., a practicing family physician with Cooperative Health in Columbia, S.C., is sworn in as the first Black woman president of the AAFP.