Michigan’s Member Constituency Delegates Inspire, Create, Lead at NCCL

May 2, 2022 - American Academy of Family Physician’s 2022 National Conference of Constituency Leaders (NCCL) was a busy and productive 2-plus days for the five delegates who represented Michigan Academy of Family Physicians:

  • Woman Delegate: Sheala Jafry, MD, MS, FAAFP (Troy)
  • Minority Delegate: Delicia Pruitt, MD, MPH, FAAFP (Saginaw)
  • New Physician (in the first seven years of practice following residency): Aisha Harris, MD (Flint)
  • International Medical Graduates (from schools outside the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico): Vijaya Arun Kumar, MD, MPH, FAAFP (Detroit)
  • LGBTQ+ physicians/physician allies: Casey Darrah, MD (Farmington Hills)

NCCL is AAFP’s annual leadership development forum that empowers a select group of change-makers to catalyze transformation in family medicine through the lens of the five member constituencies.

April 28-30, delegates appointed by their chapters convened in Kansas City, MO, from across the country to discuss issues of concern within their constituencies and write and debate resolutions—formal proposals for change.

“The minority group was passionate about issues that I cared about. They had many of their proposals passed. The one thing that I loved the most was that new people were encouraged to get involved right away. I recommend that others in our chapter apply for this experience. Overall, I really feel that I helped to improve medicine in respect to minority issues,” said Dr. Pruitt.

Improve Postpartum Morbidity and Mortality Education

Dr. Pruitt and Dr. Jafry joined forces with other delegates from the minority and women constituencies to write a resolution that earned the support of the Health of the Public and Science Reference Committee and, subsequently, the full NCCL delegation.

Recognizing the importance of educating family physicians on the signs, symptoms, and treatments of postpartum depression—many of which are often ignored—the resolution calls on AAFP to support postpartum accredited CME for members. It also recommends that AAFP advocate for legislative initiatives to fund education for other healthcare professionals, patients, and health systems on the increased risk of postpartum morbidity and mortality associated with depression and cardiovascular events, especially in marginalized populations.

“In its support for this resolution, the reference committee noted that CVD is the leading cause of death in pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Increasing awareness about postpartum depression and CVD is extremely important,” said Dr. Jafry.

Click here to read the full resolution (pages 4-5).

Include LGBTQIA+ Education

The Education Reference Committee heard the bulk of testimony in favor of Michigan delegate-authored resolutions. One, of which Dr. Darrah was a primary author, calls for AAFP to recommend and expedite the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+) centered education as an educational target for medical students, residents, and physicians. The resolution further recommends that this education include the intersection of LGBTQIA+ and Black, Indigenous, or People of Color communities through dedicated student-directed education, graduate medical education, and continuing medical education.

"I came to NCCL after discussing extensively with my LGBTQ+ patients their needs and the ways I could best be an ally and help advance their goals to get them the best possible care. The LGBTQ+ caucus was full of people who were passionate about the same issues, and working together we were able to pass multiple resolutions that will help improve the care of LGTBQ+ patients both now and in the future," said Dr. Darrah.

The reference committee heard testimony exclusively in support of the resolution. Testimony cited the paucity and inadequacy of education for students, residents, and active physicians in this area as compared to the significant need for education, given that family physicians regularly care for patients in these populations. Physicians who identify as LGBTQ, or who have family members or patients who do, shared stories of the difficulties in receiving adequate care.

Click here to read the full resolution (pages 5-6).

Offer CME on Mental Health Diagnosis and Treatment

The Education Reference Committee also heard testimony largely in support of the resolution titled Enhancing Several Mental Health Continuing Medical Education.  

Dr. Harris was the primary author of this resolution, which calls on AAFP to develop CME materials to support physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of severe and treatment-resistant mental health disorders within family medicine offices.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to put some action towards my passion to improve mental health outcomes in my community. The landscape of mental health is changing and becoming more challenging, and family doctors are at the front of these access and treatment barriers. Providing family doctors with more resources for severe mental health training and skill development will help address this deficit,” said Dr. Harris.

Click here to read the full resolution (pages 7-8).

Prioritize Global Health Education

The fourth and final successfully-passed resolution introduced by the Michigan delegation, for which a substitute was adopted, called on global health to be a continued priority of AAFP.

During testimony before the Organization and Finance Reference Committee, members expressed great disappointment that AAFP’s Global Health Summit is being reduced from two days of exclusive programming to merely four hours imbedded within the extensive Family Medicine Experience (FMX) agenda. FMX is AAFP’s largest annul family medicine gathering.

“This marked programming reduction has the potential to result in superficial, insufficient content. Plus, the important topic of global health would be obscured by the large FMX conference,” said Dr. Kumar, a co-author of the resolution.

Other members testifying in support of the resolution shared that the educational component of past summits have been vital to their development. Others spoke to the importance of the summit in raising family medicine residents’ and medical students’ awareness of additional career options.

Thus, the reference committee recommended that AAFP return to the former structure of the stand-alone, two-day Global Health Summit, beginning in 2023, to better meet members’ needs.

Click here to read the full resolution (page 5).

National Elections

In addition to writing, testifying to, and voting on resolutions, NCCL delegates are also charged with electing national member constituency leaders. MAFP is proud to share that Dr. Pruitt was elected to two positions: Minority Constituency Co-convener and one of six Member Constituency Alternate Delegates to Congress of Delegates (COD).

As a co-convener, Dr. Pruitt will attend the 2023 NCCL, May 9-11, to help lead the Minority Constituency’s discussion group, chair its caucus and elections, and chair a reference committee. As Alternate Delegate to COD—AAFP’s highest policy-making body—Dr. Pruitt will represent the Minority Constituency when COD convenes in Washington, DC, Sept. 19-21. She will then serve as a full delegate at the 2023 COD in Chicago.

“To be new and get both positions is an honor. I am excited about future work with AAFP and MAFP,” said Dr. Pruitt.

A significant support in Dr. Pruitt’s bid for these positions was Tina Tanner, MD, FAAFP (Muskegon). In the past, Dr. Tanner has served as an NCCL delegate representing Michigan, and this year, she served as the Women Constituency Co-convener and chair of the Advocacy Reference Committee.

Other supports were MAFP President Srikar Reddy, MD, FAAFP (South Lyon), President-elect Glenn Dregansky, DO, FAAFP (Jerome), Vice President Beena Nagappala, MD, MPH (Troy), and CEO Karlene Ketola, MSA, CAE. They attended the Annual Chapter Leadership Forum, held congruently with NCCL.

Click here for a Facebook photo album of MAFP at the 2022 National Conference of Constituency Leaders.

Active physician members of MAFP interested in serving as a Michigan delegate to NCCL are invited to apply by Nov. 26.