New Mexico Governor's Newsletter March 2021

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Heather C. Brislen, MD, FACP, ACP Governor

Heather C. Brislen, MD, FACP, ACP Governor



Dear friends and colleagues –

Winter is Ending!

The days are getting longer and the sun seems to be coming out in ways literal and metaphorical. My parents are 72 and 74 and have now had their first COVID vaccine doses, both tiny jabs triggering grateful tears on my part. As so many more of our community receive vaccines, New Mexico continues to shine as a standout example to the rest of the country of what is possible, and I am bursting with pride. When I heard on the news just this morning that Navajo Nation had just 6 COVID cases yesterday and no deaths, my knees went weak. My mom asked me, “Do you think that you are getting your hopes up?” And my answer is enthusiastically, YES.

In the broader policy landscape, the New Mexico legislature is poised to have a big, banner year as they wrap up their session this week, with many major issues recently passed or on the verge of passing after many years of development. The decriminalization of health care – meaning, removing an old criminal law that would have put physicians in jail for performing abortion services, was a decision that I was particularly happy to see. That issue spurred a pivotal ACP resolution that helped focus our national organization's policies just a few years back. Also, as I am writing, the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act is on the verge of passing as well. One of my own patients has been a tireless advocate for that particular bill and listening to her testimony has been personally humbling in a way that I can't yet find words for. ACP policy opposes Aid in Dying/Physician Assisted Suicide – and in line with that policy, I also desperately want our patients to have better access to palliative, hospice and end of life care – and really, to all care. In another arena entirely, Minnesota is following the template outlined by New Mexico – and our chapter – in efforts to update and destigmatize language used by the state medical board around mental health. With so much happening, I feel that the world is turning again and that we can once again start to turn our eyes to the future.

We have some local chapter successes to trumpet! Jemery Kaufman and Theresa Ronan have both been appointed to ACP Fellowship. A hearty CONGRATULATIONS to them both, and a warm thank you as well for their service to our profession, our patients and our state. Amanda Collar, our intrepid and amazing HPPC chair, has been appointed to the national ACP Council of Student Members as Vice-Chair.

I hope that all of you are feeling hopeful and getting some of that sunshine – literal and metaphorical – into your daily lives. I am thinking of you and rooting for you – please don't hesitate to be in touch if NMACP can be of any service.


Heather Brislen, MD, FACP





This committee has a new name! Dr. Chan is now the chair of the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – or JEDI Committee!

Please keep an eye out for coming programs! Details soon to come about our next book group, and also an anti-racism training led by a renowned national expert – hope to see many of you at these events soon.




Save the date for Leadership Day 2021: May 25-26

ACP's annual Leadership Day s going virtual this year! Leadership Day is an opportunity to increase the College's presence on Capitol Hill and bring issues that affect our practice and our patient's health to our US lawmakers. During the two-day virtual event, participants will be provided virtual briefings on the ACP's top legislative priorities and the opportunity to meet with members of Congress. CME credit is also available for participation.

Feedback on BOG Spring 2021 Resolutions

There are 13 resolutions and 1 resolution that has been accepted as reaffirmation without debate) that will be discussed at the upcoming Board of Governors meeting in April. A number of interesting and important topics discussed include harm reduction strategies for opioid use disorder, health care rights for incarcerated persons and asylum seekers, and the “tampon tax”.

Additionally, the BOG resolution submission deadline is quickly approaching. If you are passionate about a particular issue, a great way to affect ACP policy and create lasting change is to submit a resolution. Resolutions are due at the Chapter level on 3/26/21 for the upcoming September BOG meeting. If you'd like to collaborate or need help creating the resolution, please contact Amanda Collar

Update on the New Mexico Legislative Session

The New Mexico Legislative Session is in full swing and there have been a number of bills introduced that directly affect health care, medical practice, and our patients. One bill that I'd like to highlight is Senate Bill 10, which repeals a 1969 abortion law that criminalizes abortion in many circumstances. SB10 passed both the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Lujan Grisham on Friday, February 26th. This bill is in agreement with ACP policy, in which “ACP asserts that a woman's right over health care decisions for matters affecting her individual health must include the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy.”

There are a number of other bills making their way through the NM Legislature that affect medicine, including the Climate Solutions Act, Broadband Development Division, Cannabis Regulation Act, Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, Medical Record Disclosure, and bills addressing medical malpractice. More information on the bills themselves, the bills current location, and webcasts of the Senate and House Committees can all be found on the New Mexico Legislature website




Dear Colleagues:

Institutions and individuals across the country are commemorating the one-year anniversary of COVID this month. These observations enable us to recognize the import of the pandemic on our everyday lives and give us permission, time, and space to reflect on the losses, challenges, and successes of the past 12 months.

I encourage each of us to take some time to consider our personal losses and growth this past year. Here are some ideas for you to consider if you would like to observe the anniversary with your colleagues at work.

If sending a written acknowledgement to your team, consider including these different elements:′

  • Review your “why” for sending the communication – commemoration of anniversary of first cases, recognition of challenges of the past year, acknowledge that the pandemic is not over, offer a chance for individuals to process experiences and trauma from past year, identify ideas and hopes for the future, celebrate achievements, express gratitude for everyone's work…
  • Observe the global death toll and the personal losses those on the team have had.
  • Share what this past year has meant to you and what you think you will remember
  • Write about what changes occurred in your work area as a result of the pandemic that are positive and that will be lasting
  • Express gratitude to the team for all they have done – be as specific as possible
  • Acknowledge the need for extra support during these challenging months and review support resources that are available at your institution. The Chapter and our new Executive Director, Colleen Keeku, has some new resources for you to share (please see below).
  • Close with hopes and plans for coming months or year

If hosting a gathering virtually or in-person, consider some of these different activities:

  • Hold a moment of silence, perhaps led by a spiritual leader in your community
  • Ask people to share a story in response to any of the following prompts:
  1. What activity did you miss more than any other this past year?
  2. What have you lost this past year?
  3. Who have you lost this past year?
  • Ask people to share a story in response to any of the following prompts: (more about what was gained or was of support)
  1. Who has been a role model to you this past year and why?
  2. What has made you laugh or brought you joy this past year?
  3. How have you shown resiliency this past year?
  • Share and celebrate what your team has accomplished in spite of the challenges – perhaps a successful transition to telehealth or the use novel strategies for staying connected virtually.
  • Ask everyone to bring in or share a picture, story, poem, piece of music that captures the pandemic for them
  • Go around the group and ask each person to show what they brought and explain why they chose that piece.
  • Share published art/stories about the pandemic. Here are some examples of sites to share:
  1. Artistic antidote for a pandemic
  2. Three poems for the pandemic
  3. Expressions of clinician wellbeing
  4. Best CoVid-19 art by Washington Post readers
  5. Paintings from Spain's CoVid-19 pandemic
  • Create a board that staff can use to share their experiences/losses/gratitude in written or visual form – could be virtual (kudos board) or people can share photos to post on bulletin board
  • Ask everyone to name one thing that are grateful for – the more specific the speaker can be, the more powerful the exercise
  • Acknowledge the need for extra support during these challenging months and review support resources that are available at your institution. (Please see below for resources and ideas)
  • Thank your team for their work and participation and for coming together.

I recently reread Albert Camus' The Plague and one passage in particular captured my attention:

“There's no question of heroism in all this. It's a matter of common decency. That's an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is common decency.”

Many of us in New Mexico have demonstrated common decency. Remembering the kindness, selflessness and dedication of my colleagues and our community helps me to grieve my losses and to look to the future with new hopes.

Stay well, Liz Lawrence




Join us for our ongoing Wellness series starting in April 2021! The series includes Wellbeing experts and ACP Champions from around the country. Multiple local chapters are participating in the series, and we hope to learn and grow together. Registration is free and open to all ACP Members.


  • April 1, 2021: Appreciative Inquiry

Problem solving, like healthcare, too often begins with a narrow focus on all that is wrong. Appreciative Inquiry broadens our perspective to include what's already good; it is strengths focused. This workshop will help us learn and practice AI more frequently and effectively.

Future Sessions:

  • May 27, 2021: Organizational Culture Change
  • July 29, 2021: Self Care
  • August 26th, 2021: Organizational Small Wins


As part of ACP's Well-Being and Professional Fulfillment initiative, ACP has launched a collection of resources aimed at helping members improve their emotional well-being, ACP's I.M. Emotional Support Hub offers curated resources and information to protect physicians' emotional health and sustain ACP members' ability to care for those in need.

Though the following isn't an NMACP program, I'm eager to share with you a success of a sister organization, the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association, that is inspiring:


The Greater Albuquerque Medical Association (GAMA) Foundation recently launched an exclusive member wellness program. LifeBridgeTM is a CONFIDENTIAL counseling program staffed by highly trained therapists who have been vetted by GAMA and who are knowledgeable about burnout and specifically skilled in order to help physicians address issues that may cause it. Therapists, psychiatrists and coaches participating in the Lifebridge program offer:

  • 5 free, no-cost counseling sessions
  • No charted medical diagnosis
  • No insurance billing
  • No electronic record

Studies have been conducted by universities, national, state and county medical associations as well as large healthcare institutions to determine the level of physician “burnout” across the country. Glaring statistics report 46% of physicians are or have experienced “burnout”. A major deterrent to seeking help for this epidemic in healthcare is the concern for confidentiality. The GAMA Foundation is addressing this obstacle through a commitment to offering its members a unique and secure counseling solution to receive the needed help. GAMA members may schedule a free and confidential appointment at