As family physicians, we’re trained to deal with anything that comes in the door – including new illnesses. In the few months since our Spring Bulletin, the value of that training has been clear: Family physicians are serving a vital role at this time, and the need for our expertise will only expand as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and we shift our focus from diagnosis to the long-term physical consequences for our patients, and how we manage those consequences.
When the crisis hit, the AAFP Foundation demonstrated the value of being a nimble organization, quickly establishing the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. I’m excited to tell you that right after we announced the fund, The Humana Foundation awarded us a $1 million grant.
That generous grant – along with wonderful support from CompHealth (our longtime corporate partner), the Eisai USA Foundation, and family physicians – enabled us to provide emergency and general assistance for free clinics supported by the AAFP Foundation’s signature humanitarian program, Family Medicine Cares USA. Donations to the fund are also supporting other urgent needs created by the virus, from providing telehealth resources to securing PPE.
In another COVID-19 related move, the 2020 AAFP National Conference will be a virtual event this year. I’m pleased to say that gives us an opportunity to reach even more future family physicians. With travel-related expenses cut, we’re able to spread our scholarship funds out, and help more residents and medical students cover conference fees.
It’s a big opportunity: Many interested medical students haven’t attended the conference in the past because they couldn’t afford it. Now, we’re expanding from 250 Family Medicine Leads Scholarships to 750 scholarships. By tripling the number of scholarships awarded, we will provide more access to conference resources. And, for students, virtual events are a second language!
Our hope, of course, is that learning more about family medicine will encourage the best and brightest to choose our field as their specialty area. When they do, Tim Hoff – the recipient of the Sandra L. Panther Fellowship in the History of Family Medicine – thinks they should make a “pilgrimage” to the Foundation’s Center for the History of Family Medicine. His story is part of this Bulletin.
We want to hear your stories too! Throughout the year, we hope to highlight the stories of family physicians in the field. We want to hear about your practice, your hopes, your involvement with the AAFP Foundation. To share a story, or suggest one, please contact Cheri Tabel, Bulletin editor and AAFP Brand Manager.
My story includes lessons learned as a business owner during the pandemic – everything from filing for a loan to adapting to virtual visits, from furloughing employees to creating a safe work environment as I bring those employees back. My story also includes an encouraging note: Despite the impact COVID-19 has had on my practice, I’m not letting it defer my plans. I’m breaking ground on a new building in July. I’ve also donated to the Douglas and Mary Henley Fund, and I challenge all AAFP Foundation Board of Trustee members to make a contribution.
We are so grateful for support – especially now, during this difficult time. Thanks to all of you who have donated during the past few months, and those of you who take a moment to donate now (www.aafpfoundation.org).
Stay safe. Stay healthy.