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Spring 2017 Newsletter

Alaska Academy of Family Physicians
35555 Spur Highway #266, Soldotna, AK 99669    907 258-2255 office

News from AKAFP President Jean Tsigonis MD, Fairbanks
We had a very good Winter Conference in March.  During that meeting, the board developed the strategic plan for 2017 See the attached “one page” plan on the end of this newsletter. As you can see, there are lots of opportunities for you to take part in the implementation of the plan. We are looking for new “project” members. You can still volunteer to be on a committee for 1-2 years, or you can now volunteer to help with a short term project.
The website will be upgraded.  If this is your “calling” let us know. We want to improve communication with our members through the website, newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.
Our focus is on membership growth and retention. Let your colleagues know why it is important to belong to our academy. We provide quality CME and opportunity for collaboration.
Advocacy is a huge part of our mission There are opportunities to speak out for our profession at the state and national level.
We will be having an election in June. Let us know if you are interested in being on the board. Each year or two we elect new officers, which often come from the board. You can develop leadership skills by serving on our board. There is opportunity for leadership training through the national AAFP.
In this newsletter you will see a good description on the March Winter Conference as well as the upcoming June conference. This will be a joint venture with the Alaska Family Medicine Residency to celebrate their 20th year anniversary. You will also hear from John Cullen MD, who is currently on the National Board of Directors. He is running for president elect in the fall. Come to the September AAFP meeting in San Antonio to help his campaign.
Message from John Cullen MD AAFP Board of Directors
Fellow Alaskan Family Physicians,
I will be running for the president elect position of the AAFP this fall in San Antonio, Texas, having served the last 3 years on the board of Directors.  Barb Doty MD and I have brought an Alaskan viewpoint to national healthcare politics for 6 of the last 7 years.  It is unusual for any state to have back to back board members, especially a state chapter our size. It is also unusual for a state our size to run a national candidate. Should I win, an Alaskan will be the face of family medicine.  I could use your help in San Antonio on September 11, 2017.  It will be wild fun and FMX is right after the election.

I have been involved in the Alaska chapter for the last 20 years and the AAFP for almost as long.  This has been an essential part of my professional development and even more for my professional wellbeing.  Being involved in the academy takes time, but it is well spent.
When I moved to Valdez I found myself caught up in contentious and difficult local politics for which I had neither training or experience.  I had to fight for my patients in order to provide the best care possible.  Joining the AKAFP gave me the support of other family physicians and brought me out of my community struggle.  This also gave me perspective.
Valdez Alaska has some of the finest skiing in the world, but no lifts.  Instead, we strap climbing skins onto our skis and climb up some of the most rugged and beautiful scenery, then ski down.  What I love even more than the skiing is the perspective from the top.  Looking down from a high viewpoint gives a sense of place that can be found in no other way.  I found that same sense in going to our state and national meetings.
I also felt more in control   The ability to talk with other family physicians around the country and to come up with position statements and resolutions is powerful.  Even more so is setting policy and lobbying on behalf of our patients.
Finally, I learned about leadership in the best way possible, by talking with real leaders. Our meetings are places where leaders gather.  Furthermore, these are family medicine leaders which are the brightest, most socially conscious, and diverse of any group in the country. 
I took all that I learned, felt and experienced back to my community and fixed my local health system.  It was difficult, stressful, but ultimately satisfying.  The time spent with the AAFP and the AKAFP gave me the knowledge and confidence to do this and has improved health care for my patients and my community.  I encourage you to get more involved. 
There is much that is happening nationally. The foremost of these was the passage of MACRA, a bill that replaced the Sustainable Growth Rate.  2017 is the first reporting period.  First of all, this law only applies if you see more than 100 medicare patients and there is a Pick your Pace provision that we lobbied hard for.  There is potential to make more money from Medicare from MACRA and from Chronic Care Management for things which we do in any case.
The AHCA and ACA are still hanging over our heads.    Unfortunately, Alaska in particular would have suffered under the AHCA. In particular, those in the individual market would have been hit with high costs.  Ultimately, the AAFP decided to not support the AHCA for this and other reasons.   That is not to say that the ACA is ideal either.   Our population and risk pool is too small to support many insurers and we are down to one. Furthermore, as our state cost sharing for medicaid increases we will as a state be paying more at a time when finances are thin. We need to have a genuine bipartisan discussion in Washington to fix our health care system. 
The AAFP is working hard on this and other issues. We have a good reputation as honest advisors.  Our Political Action Committee has been helpful as well, which is how things get done nationally. There are so many issues that we are working on that it would take more space than I have allotted to do them justice, but suffice to say we are working to make your professional lives easier and your patient’s lives better.
Conference Chair Barb Doty MD, Wasilla
3rd Annual Alaska Family Medicine Summit & Alaska Family Medicine Residency 20th Anniversary Celebration June 29 - July 1, 2017 The Hotel Captain Cook • Anchorage, Alaska  See the schedule and register online at
Come join your fellow Alaska trained family doctors from around the country, gathering for the 20 year Alaska Family Medicine Residency celebration! We’ve invited friends and colleagues as well as national thought leaders to give you top quality CME and top quality Alaska Networking!  Debate the issues, hear the latest tips and tricks, and enjoy a celebratory weekend with old friends and new colleagues
Education Chair Update  Tracy Slager MD, Eagle River
We had a very successful Winter Update conference. There were approximately 87 attendees, including a delegation from WAAMI. The reviews of the speakers were terrific – all receiving a 4/5 and above on the post-course evaluations. The workshop on BattleField (Auricular) Acupuncture was also highly regarded and gave attendees another in office tool to manage pain.
This year’s Fall conference will be held in June at the Hotel Captain Cook and is in combination with the 20th Anniversary and Graduation of the Alaska Family Medicine Residency. Speakers include former residents and faculty that are very diverse in speaking on a number of topics from Newborn Fever to Osteoporosis. I am also looking for a few interested persons who may be available to give a few hours (2-3, max!) a month to help plan our next Winter Update – please contact Marilyn Dodd or myself (
Alaska Academy of Family Physicians
2017 - 2019 Strategic Plan

Approved by the Alaska Academy of Family Physicians Board on ______
Mission Statement:
The mission of AK AFP is to improve the health of our patients, their families, and the Alaskan people; to advance and represent the specialty of family medicine; and to serve with professionalism and creativity the unique needs of our members.
Areas of Focus
Promote Family Medicine Wellbeing 
Goal 1: Promote physician wellbeing as both an individual and employer responsibility.
  1. Survey members on what they and their employers are doing to address wellbeing and promote best practices
  2. Goal 2: Promote alternative practice strategies.
  1. 2017 - Team Based Care
  2. Goal 3: Incorporate wellbeing into educational programing, newsletters, website and other member communication.
    Establish and Promote AK AFP Member Value
    Goal 1: Create a robust and member driven educational effort (CME, MoC).
  1. Explore avenues for delivering education and CME (webinars, podcasts, video conferencing).Goal 2: Establish measures for determining member satisfaction.
    Goal 3: Assist members with AAFP relations and opportunities
    Goal 4: Keep members informed of member value efforts and opportunities.
    Promote Family Medicine Advocacy
    Goal 1: Become the voice of family medicine for members and their patients.
    Goal 2: Grow and maintain a family medicine workforce.
    Goal 3: Promote payment reform for family medicine at both the state and federal level.
    Goal 4: Promote family medicine to the public and legislators though education and networking.
    Goal 5: Move to proactive legislative advocacy by taking positions on proposed legislation and communicating with legislators and regulators.
  1. Create measures for advocacy impact.
  2. Organize a FM advocacy day.
Promote, Recruit and Retain an AK Family Medicine Workforce
Goal 1: Nurture and develop Family Medicine leaders.
  1. Create opportunities for board members to routinely identify and ask members to become involved.
  2. Goal 2: Support members who provide a full spectrum of care to those whose practice is more specialized or focused in a specific area of care
    Goal 3: Provide workforce support and resources to members, pre med students, medical students and residents.
    Goal 4: Identify opportunities and funding to send students to the national conference.


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