The sole source of power and authority in the Washington Academy of Family Physicians Academy is vested in the House of Delegates. It establishes policies and defines basic principles through the adoption of reports and resolutions at the time of the annual meeting. In a sense, your colleagues sitting in the WAFP House of Delegates are like the representatives holding the proxies of stockholders of a private corporation. They are electives of the WAFP membership and speak for you. WAFP bylaws allow for nearly 100 delegates and 100 alternate delegates to represent the 20 regional/county chapters (over 3,100 members) at this important meeting.
Under the terms of its bylaws, the Washington Academy of Family Physicians is governed by a House of Delegates representing the constituent chapters including family medicine resident and student chapters. At their annual meeting, the delegates also elect a Board of Directors, which in turn has full power and authority to conduct the Academy's affairs during the interim between meetings of the House of Delegates. Consider this responsibility and how important it is to become involved in this process of electing the right people to guide this organization.
How does an idea become policy?
Resolutions, representing ideas for new projects or policies, are presented to the House of Delegates by members via their chapter delegates or arise from the work of the Academy's commissions and committees. A resolution will begin its journey in a reference committee. The Speaker appoints reference committees to consider resolutions and other matters within each committee’s jurisdiction. These committees usually consist of three members, one of whom is appointed chairperson by the Speaker.
Members may testify for or against resolutions during the reference committee hearings. The reference committees then make recommendations to the House to adopt or reject each resolution. After discussion by the entire House, a vote is taken and the resolution may become WAFP policy, be passed along to AAFP or WSMA as a resolution to their Houses, or may form the basis for the WAFP’s legislative position on various issues in the coming year.
What’s it going to take?
If you decide to commit your time and energy to this process, you will need to:
Be away from your practice for at least one day (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.); but realistically you will likely have to allow for travel time and we hope you will want to attend the Scientific Assembly on Friday and Saturday to garner CME hours as well. Familiarize yourself with WAFP Bylaws. Know the agenda. Resolutions will be sent to delegates and alternates in time for you to familiarize yourself with the issues before the meeting. Talk to your colleagues and learn their views on current issues affecting family medicine. Consider writing, co-writing or sponsoring a resolution. Plan to attend reference committee meetings and to be prepared to express your views on subjects of special interest to your chapter and your constituents. Stand up and vote at the House.Your chapter will be asked to appoint delegates and alternates in the first few months of the year. Consider taking part in this democratic process. Your involvement could make a real difference in how Family Medicine is practiced in our state.
Remember that the power of the Academy begins as a single idea, grows and evolves in the House of Delegates, and not only can shape WAFP, AAFP and WSMA policy, but can also impact Washington state legislation and make a tremendous difference to your profession, your practice, and most importantly--your patients.
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