President's Message

April 17, 2024

The President's message is written personally by the President each month and all opinions expressed within are his/her individual opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Academy, it’s affiliates, or it’s employees.

Beth Menzel, MD, FAAFP

According to Benjamin Franklin, only two things in this life are certain – death and taxes, which also means that April brings Tax Day followed by National Healthcare Decisions Day to inspire or remind people to consider their advanced care planning.  Ideally, as Family Physicians, we regularly have conversations with our patients about these wishes, including what their wishes are, who they have included on their ‘team’ for such decisions, and how those wishes might be carried out through the care we provide for them.  Ideally, that allows us to be able to implement their plans with that team in meaningful ways.  For example, a long time, complicated patient of mine who I knew well enough to know exactly how well (or poorly) she was doing the moment I walked into the exam room each visit, had a catastrophic medical event.  She was hospitalized in a local hospital, but not where I provide inpatient care.  Nevertheless, her loved ones requested my presence for the family meeting with her hospital physician, where we discussed her wishes and how to carry them out.  Everybody in the room knew those wishes, and through tears agreed that comfort care was most consistent with her wishes.  Although she could not actually speak to us then, we could all hear her voice as we read the parting message she’d written in her Advanced Directives years earlier:  “Peace out!  I’m DONE!” Through tears, there were chuckles for her ever-present spunk and a collective sense of her own relief and the unburdening of her loved ones in not having to make the hard decisions: she had already made those decisions so they didn’t have to.  In this circumstance, we knew her wishes in regard to the care she wanted and who she wanted on the team to guide the decisions, we had that team present for decision-making and we knew how to carry out her wishes in that moment.

As an organization, WAFP strives to do the same:  effectively connect with our members about their needs/wishes, strive to have the most appropriate people on the team for our decision-making and to carry out our collective membership’s wishes based on guidance from that team.  So just as we might individually be asking of our patients this month, our WAFP team collectively pursues our members’ ideas, needs and wishes in ways that are most effective for you, but if you have ideas about how we can better solicit or engage your interests, ideas, needs, please share those ideas – just as we might hope a patient’s loved one would share critical ideas with us regarding that patient’s needs.  

We also strive to have people at the table (yes, the literal board table) who can most effectively represent you – our members. As we know with patients, their teams vary in complement with effectiveness not necessarily related to size.  Similarly, at our most recent meeting, our board discussed maintaining a thoughtful approach to our board complement – focused more on effective representation than on a specific number of seats.  You could say it’s really a focus on quality over quantity.

Ultimately, through thoughtful planning and conversation, our WAFP team seeks to have the same sense that was in the room with my patient and her loved ones:  a sense that we are all collectively on the same page and can easily know we are implementing action plans that follow the needs and wishes of those whose voices we intend to represent.

If you’d like to share your perspective or learn how you can get involved in our Academy, please feel free to reach out to We’d love to hear from you!

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