By Chris Crawford, AAFP News
The 2016 Congress of Delegates (COD) addressed a number of issues, including evaluating the COD for possible improvement and updating the AAFP fellowship oath to reflect the push to stem physician burnout.
Members who participated in the Reference Committee on Organization and Finance hearing on Monday discussed a proposal that the AAFP conduct a quality improvement study on the COD, later adopting a substitute resolution introduced during the following day’s business session.
The substitute resolution called for the Academy to evaluate the nomination and election process for candidates for the AAFP Board of Directors, review the on-site candidate hospitality evening, and report the findings to the 2017 COD.
The original resolution, which was co-sponsored by nine AAFP chapters, called for a task force to be appointed to handle the research.
But multiple delegates voiced concerns that the resolution didn’t specify details of what problems needed to be solved and what should be evaluated for improvement.
The reference committee agreed that parameters and objectives needed to be set so the process would not become overly burdensome. The substitute resolution delegates adopted, which was offered by Michigan delegate Jennifer Aloff, MD, of Midland, adequately addressed those concerns.
AAFP FELLOWSHIP OATH
Another resolution delegates adopted updates the oath members take when receiving the AAFP Degree of Fellow to better reflect the critical importance of work-life balance in stemming physician burnout.
The resolution called for the Academy to change the oath’s language to read, “As a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, I promise to dedicate myself to:
- the principles upon which our Academy was founded,
- providing comprehensive lifelong care to my patients,
- exemplifying the highest traditions of my profession, and
- enhancing my professional skills through continuing medical education.
I pledge my commitment to improving the health of my patients, their families and communities and to advancing the specialty of family medicine, now and in the future.”
That wording was drafted in 2015 by the AAFP Commission on Membership and Member Services at the behest of the 2014 COD and omitted language from the original oath that said, “…To provide comprehensive and continuing health care to my patients, placing their welfare above all else.”
Tennessee delegate and resolution co-author Lee Carter, MD, of Huntingdon, testified during the hearing that, “Patients should be above insurance companies; patients should be above the hospital administrator; patients should be above anything professional… but our personal lives are different. And the need to balance our professional life with our private life is something we all have to deal with now.”
General registrant Joseph Freund, MD, of Des Moines, Iowa, described his experience 25 years ago when his efforts to put patients first led to major burnout and his needing to take six months off to regroup.
“I put the patient above everything else and gave everything else, and there wasn’t anything left of me but a shell,” Freund said. “I had no identity outside of being a physician. But it was after taking some time off that I realized I needed to spend time on myself as well.
“So to protect ourselves, this is a real dangerous phrase to leave in our oath. I proudly trumpet how wonderful family docs are when I speak to groups and to students. But until that oath is changed, I cannot take that oath and be true to myself.”
Additional resolutions adopted during the Sept. 20 business session included one limiting materials of candidates running for AAFP elected offices to a one-page announcement (front and back) produced by the Academy that shows the candidate’s photo, the office sought, his or her sponsoring chapter and a link to the candidate’s website.
Finally, delegates adopted a Bylaws amendment to change the amount of time required to award AAFP lifetime membership from a minimum of 20 years as an active member to a minimum of 25 years. Candidates for lifetime membership also are required to have had five years of continuous membership immediately before election as life members, and they also must be age 70 or older or be totally retired.