Tennessee Governor's Newsletter July 2024

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Catherine R. Womack, MD, FACP, ACP Governor

Catherine R. Womack, MD, FACP, ACP Governor

Dear ACP members,

I am excited to share the experiences and feedback from those who traveled to DC to meet with our Senators and Congressmen for our annual ACP Leadership Day with all of you. Unfortunately, I was sick and not able to attend, but our Leadership Day contingent did an amazing job! Our group included community and academic physicians, residents, and medical students, all first-time attendees. They were truly energized when they returned and said, "We cannot wait to go back next year." Everyone enjoyed advocating for our patients and our fellow physicians and enjoyed the camaraderie at the meeting, making new friends, and connecting with old friends from across the country.

It is important for us to speak with the same voice about the bipartisan bills we advocated for in Washington: The Safe Step Act, The Resident Physician Shortage Act, and The Physician Fee Schedule Update and Improvements Act. We may not always agree on every ACP policy, but we all agree that we need more residents in training to take care of our patients. We need pharmacy benefit managers to stay out of the practice of medicine. Our patients should not have to take a failed drug for the second time just because they switched from one insurance company to another. That is especially important when we have already documented the failure in our charts. We should have our reimbursement tied to the inflation rate. Hospitals and pharmacies have already accomplished this, and we should, too.

Please join Advocates for Internal Medicine and take a stand on these crucial issues. Your voice matters, and your actions can make a difference. Together, we can bring about the changes we seek. Enroll Now: After clicking the link, scroll down to the right where it says: Enroll in the Advocates for Internal Medicine Network. We must work harder to protect our patients from barriers that interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

I asked our Health and Public Policy Committee Co-Chair, Dr. Michelle Allmon, and two resident attendees, Dr. Victoria Alexander and Dr. Sara-Elizabeth Cardin to write up their thoughts and experiences from Leadership Day, and I am excited to share them with the chapter in this newsletter.

Catherine R. Womack, MD, FACP




May was The Month of Volunteering for the Tennessee chapter. Shout out to Dr. Alva Weir, and Dr. Mart Amick, who volunteered for ACP in May! Thank you to Dr. Tracey Doering, our Volunteer and Awards Committee Chair. We will continue to work hard to increase our volunteer efforts.



Internal Medicine Interest Group (IMIG)

We now have four nationally sponsored IMIG groups as well as a 112 person increase in this fiscal year in medical student memberships.

I look forward to all of us working with our new learners across Tennessee to improve mentorship and meet the needs of our trainees. Please get in touch with me or one of our Early Career Physician Committee leaders if you are interested in mentoring these learners in their path to practicing Internal Medicine or one of our sub-specialties.



Chapter Awards

We are now accepting nominations for chapter awards. Consider nominating one of your outstanding colleagues in the award categories below. We will present the awards to the winners during the awards lunch at the fall meeting. The deadline for nominations is August 15, 2024.

Laureate Award
Volunteerism & Community Service Award
Woman Physician of the Year
Chapter Service Award
Distinguished Teacher/Mentor Award
Early Career Physician Award
Resident Recognition Award for Leadership
Joseph Frederick Ralston Jr. Medical Student Scholarship Award

Awards Nominations 



Tennessee Chapter 2024 Annual Scientific Meeting

Annual meeting registration is now open. Save the dates, October 18-19, 2024 and get registered today.

Meeting Registration




Our Leadership Day contingent

Back -Dr Michelle Allmon, Dr. Sara-Elizabeth Cardin, Dr. Tori Alexander, Dr. Dan Ely, Dr. Brock Mitchell, Mr. Aamir Shaikh 

Front- Dr. Parul Goyal, Mr. Louis Brown


A Leadership Day Reflection

By IM Residents, Victoria Alexander, MD and Sara-Elizabeth Cardin, MD

Imagine walking into a hotel conference room filled with hundreds of like-minded colleagues. You sit down at a table with other representatives from your state, bonding over patient experiences and shared understanding. You look across the room and recognize that attending you follow on X or Instagram, other leaders within the health policy and advocacy world, and even your friend from medical school three tables over. The overwhelming feeling at that time can only be described as an immense sense of gratitude.

That was exactly our experience. We were lucky to be able to fly in the day before the conference began and take the time to explore our capital and its history. As we walked the National Mall, stopping at each monument, we paid respects to those who came before us, to the lost military lives, and to the history of our great nation. We discussed policy issues both at home in Tennessee and nationally. We discussed the effects that these policies have on the patients that we treat, but also on us as residents and our attending physician colleagues.

The first day of the conference was almost overwhelming. Panels on how to incorporate advocacy into your practice, the basics of lobbying, or even how to approach a congressional meeting. We went into a deep dive of the issues that we would be directly bringing to our congressional representative the next day. We quickly Googled an alphabet soup of acronyms that we had never heard before. We heard from staffers on both sides of the party line. The group shared bipartisan opinions. Individuals respectfully shared very partisan opinions. And then we went home to rest up for what would be a busy day coming up next.

When we arrived the second day, the energy was palpable. After one last bout of preparation, each state's contingent walked over to the Hill and started the most important part of our being in DC. We spoke with staffers, senators, congressmen and women, their aides, and each other as we adventured from building to building. We continued to learn as we went, adjusting our approach or adding points as our lawmakers discussed financial or partisan challenges holding back legislation. We shared our experiences and the effect the current political state has on patients and patient care—those stories are what made these issues real. They put a face and an applicable story to understand why each piece of legislation was so important to those working in medicine.

At the end of the day, our smaller group from West Tennessee had the special honor of having to quickly reschedule a meeting as the House had been called to a vote; that rescheduling meant a staffer walked us directly into the Capitol (bags and all, we couldn't miss our flight!) to meet with the representative of whom some of our group were constituents. There was a different type of energy in those halls. As our representative stepped off the floor, he shared with us that the hall we were standing in is where the President walks and enters the House floor. Before we left, we were allowed to take a group photo with the Congressman in front of one of the original three portraits of George Washington. Wow. As we left and were walking down the front steps of the Capitol, it really hit home the direct impact of what we had been working for all day.

Our annual Day on the Hill in Nashville will always hold a special place in our hearts; it's the place where we truly first engaged in grassroots advocacy efforts. There is nothing more promising, however, than being in a room with physicians from all 50 states and DC working towards something larger than ourselves. There's nothing more heartwarming than knowing that the physicians in this country continue to strive for better and will continue to advocate on behalf of our patients.

For each of us, this was our first Leadership Day, but we can both confidently say it is only the first of many. We look forward to forming more connections with other physician-advocates and legislators, both next year and in the months between. We are so excited to share our experience with you all and hope that if what we write here inspires just one of you— medical student, resident, or attending physician— to join us next year, we will have played just a small part in making healthcare in our country better.


Leadership Day Call to Action

We joined nearly 500 ACP members from across the US to meet with Tennessee members of Congress and our Tennessee Senators on Capitol Hill to ask for support for three pieces of legislation. The Physician Fee Schedule Update and Improvement Act would help fix the current flawed system by providing stable, positive financial updates in payment to physicians based on inflation measures. The Safe Step Act would reform step therapy protocols making them more transparent and consistent across insurers, and the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2023 would increase the number of Medicare-supported Graduate Medical Education positions over the next 7 years with a goal of increasing the number of primary care physicians in the workforce.

We were able to share stories of patients whose lives have been negatively impacted by the inability to fill prescription drugs due to loss of access after switching health plans, the difficulties of running a practice due to rising costs and decreasing reimbursement, and specific challenges experienced after losing residency positions in Tennessee due to lack of funding.

ACP's advocacy grassroots efforts happen year-round. You can help amplify our message with Congress by joining the Advocates for Internal Medicine Network now you'll receive updates on key policy issues and learn ways you can help!

The bills discussed are linked below:

The Safe Step Act

Helps decrease administrative burden on physicians and helps patients receive more effective care.

The Resident Physician Shortage Act

Addresses physician workforce shortage issues by creating 2,000 new residency positions each year for the next seven years.

The Physician Fee Schedule Update and Improvements Act

Asks to raise the threshold for implementing budget-neutral payment cuts to physicians and link this threshold to inflation to help mitigate cuts physicians face.

Couldn't make it to Leadership Day this year? There is a current action alert asking members who couldn't attend to advocate about these critical issues. Take action now!

Dr. Michelle Allmon

Co-Chair, Health and Public Policy Committee