In addition to meeting this month with delegates from District 4, I have been honored to attend, on behalf of the MAFP Board of Directors, two events for related professional organizations.

The St. Louis Academy of Family Physicians installed it’s 2019 officers and Board of Directors over dinner in a local restaurant on 1/6/19.  The Missouri Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians installed it’s 2019 officers and Board of Governors at its annual membership meeting in Kansas City on 1/26/19.  I congratulate all incoming officers, especially Drs. Chris Blanner and Chris Paynter, presidents of SLAFP and MSACOFP respectively, and thank them for their service.  I equally salute Drs. Lauren Wilfling and Mark Rose, immediate past presidents of SLAFP and MSACOFP respectively, for their leadership.

The theme of ‘leading’ was a common one to speeches at both events and I thought I’d share a story from my own installation as president of MAFP.  During that ceremony, one of our MAFP members, currently serving as CEO of a rural Missouri hospital, also received his AAFP degree of fellow.  When I congratulated him afterward he thanked me before sheepishly adding, “It’s nice to get this even if I am in administration instead of practice now, sorry about that”. 

My smile faltered as this family physician apologized for being a leader in medicine and I replied, “Don’t apologize.  We need more family docs in leadership!”  I was disheartened to hear family doctors he’d encountered disagreed with me.

Months later, that conversation still bothers me.  Have we become so indoctrinated as family physicians, as the “nice guys” in medicine that we think the only way we can help our patients is through face-to-face patient care?  How many more lives might we impact if, instead, we occasionally looked up from our EHRs or engaged in medicine outside the clinic walls?  How different could the health of our patients be if it was family physicians – the one specialty in medicine trained to really see the comprehensive picture of health – who were the leaders of clinics, hospitals, insurance carriers or professional organizations? 

I, for one, would like to know what the difference could be and so, inspired by these officers whose installations I witnessed, I challenge every single one of Missouri’s family physicians to speak to your legislators and policyholders, to nominate yourself for a committee or administrative position in your clinic, hospital or community or to engage with your community or professional organization

As a family physician, you have already developed skills to lead in ways big or small.  Just be sure that when you lead, you do it unapologetically!

Any opinions, offenses or errors above are mine and mine alone!  This blog does not necessarily represent the opinion or position of the Missouri or American Academies of Family Physicians or their respective staff.