A Brief History of the Society of Air Force Physicians/Air Force Chapter of the American College of Physicians

By Jay B. Higgs, M.D., Historian October 1997

In 1957 Lt Col Philip G. Keil became Chairman of Medicine at Wilford Hall Medical Center and program director for the newly formed first internal medicine residency in the USAF. Col Keil felt he needed a vehicle to advertise the new residency and disseminate scientific information within the Air Force medical system. He therefore proposed to then-Col Archie A. Hoffman an annual scientific meeting, and the Society of Internists and Allied Specialists (later renamed the Society of Air Force Physicians) was formed to sponsor this event.

Dr. Wilbur Kenoyer served as the first Meeting Chair and Dr. Hoffman was president for the first three years. Despite concern that there might not be a sufficient quorum for the first meeting, 140 physicians attended and it was a great success. Each year, as training and education became more important to the Air Force, priority was placed on providing a forum for trainees to present scholarly work to each other and to more experienced members. In 1969, the annual meeting was established as the Air Force chapteral meeting of the American College of Physicians.

The meeting has gradually evolved over 40 years to include a Sunday scientific session for review of selected internal medicine topics, invited lectureships, and multiple break-out sessions for the presentation of scientific abstracts. A highlight of the annual meetings since 1987 has been the challenge bowl competition, which pits resident teams against one another in "friendly" competition to see who is the quickest to answer questions in internal medicine. In 1994, the American College of Physicians awarded the Air Force Chapter the Evergreen Award for this innovation in teaching.

Throughout its 40-year history, the Society has offered thousands of trainees the experience of sharing the fruits of their scientific inquiries in the format of concise 10-minute podium presentations. Many young presenters have later gone on to be nationally recognized academic physicians. Each year an ACP college representative attends the annual meeting and provides an important link with our parent organization. In addition, the Society has served as a forum for collegial interaction between physicians interested in Air Force Medicine.