The American Academy of Family Physicians National Congress of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students was held July 28-30 in Kansas City, MO. Ohio’s delegation, supported by the OAFP Foundation, included residents Marcus Wing, DO, of Mt. Carmel Family Medicine Residency, Columbus, OH, (delegate) and Scott Morris, DO, of Riverside Family Medicine Residency, Columbus, (alternate delegate); and medical students Jessica Tucker from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens, OH, (delegate) and Christen Johnson from Wright State Boonshoft College of Medicine, Dayton, OH, (alternate delegate).
Resident participants numbering 1,210 wrote, debated, and finalized decisions on some 66 resolutions that covered a myriad of issues, such as the health of their patients, residency training sites, and health policy education.
Student member delegates adopted resolutions that addressed protecting patient welfare and identifying programs that offer rural training opportunities.
“The first day of the congress provided a tremendous amount of information and orientation. As delegates, we were briefed on parliamentary procedure and the sequence of events that would soon begin to unfold. We were encouraged to consider issues that were personal and pertinent to our own experience as well as the issues that were brought to us from our Ohio constituents. We were briefed about the responsibilities to be performed by each elected position and also encouraged to consider serving in that way. I was able to attend a workshop that morning on point-of-care ultrasound where I practiced assessing median nerve wasting secondary to carpal tunnel syndrome, ultrasound guided injections, and eFAST trauma scans.
The bulk of Thursday was spent writing and revising resolutions. I came to conference feeling passionate about speaking against the growing gender salary wage gap, but nervous to initiate the formalities of resolution writing and defense on the congress floor. I came to the conference with all of my “whereas” clauses prepared and had some ideas in mind of what I wanted the AAFP’s actionables to be, but had yet to create complete resolution clauses. I spent some time working with one of the physicians who currently serves on the AAFP Board of Directors, and he gave me tremendous guidance for document preparation.
In the evening, I, along with the alternate delegate and resident delegates, attended the OAFP Foundation’s Ohio-Only Reception at Bar Louie to network with other Ohio students, residents, and faculty at the conference.
The second day I defended the resolution before the reference committee and also spoke in support of and opposition to other resolutions presented. The majority of the day was spent in congress sessions and reference committee meetings.
The final day of the conference was the most nerve-wracking, exciting, and productive day. One of the reasons I wanted to represent Ohio as delegate was not only to bring ideas from my peers to the congress, but also to develop professionally. While in my fourth and final year of medical school, I have been trying to identify my clinical, professional, and personal weaknesses and had identified policy-making and formalities of legislation as one of them. Serving on the OAFP board as medical student director provided some of the courage I needed to apply for the position in the first place. I know that the combination of passion and nervousness typically aids in my professional growth, and Saturday was jam-packed with both of these! In the morning I attended the presentations by candidates and voted on newly elected AAFP student representatives. I was encouraged by students, residents, and faculty to run for an AAFP position, but I felt that my efforts should first be spent close to home in the OAFP using the skills I learned at conference to discuss my ideas and promote positive change.
In the congress sessions on Saturday, we revised, debated, and voted on resolutions. All three of my resolutions regarding the gender-salary-wage gap were passed in addition to the writing of a new one by the reference committee! One resolution, written by a California student, had been voted down by the reference committee, but I was inspired by the spirit of his intentions so we extracted, amended, and passed a new resolution! That was the most nerve-wracking and gratifying part of my morning. To have an idea, create a resolution, defend it in front of my colleagues, and have it pass unanimously felt amazing. It was in that specific moment that I realized how valued the student voice is and how powerful my position as a student in the AAFP is. Along with my peers, we accomplished so much at national conference, and I am excited and encouraged to bring that momentum back to Ohio. “
From her experience, Jessica states that she “wants students to know that their voice matters. The future of family medicine is yours! Get involved!”