Guest Editorial

AAFP Commissions Offer Opportunity to Contribute, Learn and Lead

July 19, 2012 05:40 pm Angelo Patsalis, M.D.

Eighteen family physicians from 18 different states -- some from academic backgrounds, others who are solo docs, large group practice physicians and everything in between. This is the variety that comprises the AAFP Board of Directors. But one thing this diverse group of FPs has in common is that all of them have served on at least one AAFP commission before they were elected to the Board.

[Angelo Patsalis, M.D.]

Angelo Patsalis, M.D.

The AAFP has seven commissions that cover a variety of areas, including membership and member services, continuing professional development, education, finance and insurance, governmental advocacy, health of the public and science, and quality and practice. Serving on one of these commissions can provide a front-row seat to how the Academy works, and it allows you help shape the direction of the organization, thus, affecting more than 100,000 of your colleagues. It also can be your stepping stone to the leadership of family medicine.

Commission members serve four-year terms and are expected to actively participate in conference calls, project work between meetings and other activities. It's can be a lot of work, but it's well worth it. In fact, serving on an AAFP commission is an amazing experience. I know because I'm in my sixth year as a commission member. Every time I come to a commission meeting, it reenergizes me and I go back to Michigan wanting to work harder for family medicine and for my patients.

Our country is so big and family medicine is so diverse that commission members often learn from each other -- people who are doing the same things as we are, but who are doing them a little differently. We are exposed to new ideas, as well as fresh perspectives on old problems. Regardless of whether you practice in a rural or urban area, whether you specialize in geriatrics or work in an emergency department, there's something to learn from your fellow commission members.

During my time on the Commission for Membership and Member Services, I've learned how to streamline my practice, improve my advocacy skills and better communicate what family physicians do, how we do it, and why we do it to subspecialists, hospitals, medical students and others because I have been exposed to a fascinating mix of people with different ideas and experiences.

There are a lot of positives to being a member of a commission, and the time commitment is not overwhelming. This is an opportunity to learn from your colleagues, give back to family medicine and offer the Academy your own unique perspective.

The Academy recently sent out letters inviting all of its constituent chapters to make nominations that will help the Board fill 23 commission seats that will be vacated in December, and I encourage all of you to express an interest.

To be considered, your chapter must provide a

  • letter of nomination,
  • typed commission appointment fact sheet,
  • passport photo, and
  • completed online conflict-of-interest form.

If you are interested in being a hands-on, active participant in the decision-making process for your Academy, contact your constituent chapter before the nomination deadline of Oct. 15. The decisions you help make will affect not only your practice but our entire specialty.

Angelo Patsalis, M.D., of Livonia, Mich., is the chair of the Commission on Membership and Member Services.