IAFP Student Delegate report, AAFP National Conference
Emma Richardson (Rush) July 27-29, 2017

This was my second time at the AAFP National Conference. Last year, I attended sessions and workshops, explored the Expo hall, and got to know some of the upperclassmen from Rush who were also attending the conference. It was a great experience that reaffirmed my passion for family medicine.

To prepare for my role as Illinois student delegate this year, I thought about how I could get more involved in the AAFP through the student congress and resolution process. I had never written a resolution before, and I really did not know what to expect from the congress. Even though I attended the National Conference last year, I was hardly aware of the congressional process.

Serving as the Illinois student delegate was a completely different and even more rewarding experience. A session that provided a brief overview of how to write resolutions on Thursday, I joined the “advocacy” table to discuss my ideas with other students. With my experiences in medical school providing health education to women in the Cook County Jail, I have developed an interest in criminal justice reform and want to promote healthier communities through this avenue. While this may seem “out of scope” for a future physician, I have always appreciated how family medicine understands how issues like incarceration do, in fact, affect health. Detainees are impacted directly through exposure to infectious diseases and potentially unnecessary transitions of care; and indirectly though social determinants of health, notably housing, education, and employment. I worked with a few other students at the advocacy table to draft a resolution advocating for elimination of the cash bail and bond system in the US that leads to pre-trial detainment of individuals who have not been convicted of a crime but cannot afford to pay their bond.

I collaborated with other students on resolutions pertaining to medically unnecessary surgeries for intersex individuals and protection of government funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs, as well. It was an incredible experience to share my own area of interest with them and learn more about their passions through the resolution writing (and extensive editing!) processes.

On Friday, I testified in favor my resolution on the community health impacts of the cash bond system in front of a reference committee. The reference committee modified my resolution during their closed session later that Friday afternoon, and we voted for each of the resolutions on Saturday when the student congress convened. After heated debate on several other resolutions on Saturday morning, the resolution I primarily authored passed in its modified form without debate. I sat alongside another IAFP member, Stephen Whitfield from Northwestern University – Feinberg School of Medicine, whose resolution regarding intersex rights also passed. We were excited that our resolutions may have an impact on AAFP policy and advocacy in the future, and I am eager to become more involved. It was also great to see how much the AAFP values students and residents as an integral part of the AAFP membership.

Like last year, attending conference this year was an amazing experience, though the experiences themselves were entirely different. This was my first foray into organized medicine and parliamentary procedure, and I found it incredibly invigorating to know that this opportunity gives me a voice to not only represent my own passions and perspectives, but those of the IAFP student body as well. I am excited for future opportunities to become even more involved in organized medicine through the IAFP and AAFP.