After two days of extensive debate, the 2023 Congress of Delegates (COD) voted on October 26 to create a new committee that will focus on building a slate of candidates for American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) president-elect, speaker, vice speaker, and at-large Board members each year with the skills and background to meet the changing needs of family medicine.
Last year’s COD created a special committee to investigate ways to eliminate those discrepancies, as well as to reverse a gradual, decade-long decrease in the number of members who pursued leadership and governance opportunities. The work culminated in recommendations for a new nominating committee that could not only meet those goals, but also ensure that each year’s COD can choose from a competitive slate of candidates that answer the needs of the organization’s members and the specialty at that time.
Under the new, recently adopted system, candidates — including at least five candidates for at-large Board seats — will be selected by a nominating committee with an eye to those needs.
“The AAFP and family medicine is best served when the organization’s leadership and governance positions are held by a talented and diverse set of family physicians who represent the diversity of the organization’s membership,” wrote the special committee that recommended the changes. “A targeted and contemporaneous mechanism should be developed to specify the desired competencies and experience needed each year on the Board to ensure both strong leadership and a diversity of skills and backgrounds are represented.”
Every candidate will receive the same level of campaign assistance from the AAFP; support from chapters and other entities will be discouraged to create a level playing field.
As was previously the case, candidates also can be nominated from the floor during the first session of each year’s COD.
The nominating committee will be chaired by a former AAFP officer who will be appointed jointly by the AAFP Board chair and speaker. The first chair, confirmed by the COD on October 27, is Past President Reid Blackwelder, MD, FAAFP, associate dean for graduate medical and continuing education at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine.
As chair, Dr. Blackwelder will name three voting members from each of the following four groups:
- Past and current COD delegates and alternates
- Past AAFP directors
- At-large members nominated by chapters
- Members of the National Conference of Constituency Leaders Advisory Groups from the previous three years.
The AAFP Board chair, the resident member of the Board and the chair of the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness in Family Medicine will serve as nonvoting members.
Committee members will serve for three years (after an initial staggered composition of one-, two- and three-year terms) and will not be able to run for a seat on the AAFP Board until two years after their committee service ends.
Watch the AAFP website for more information in the coming months, including how to be considered by the nominating committee.