President’s Corner

Chad Johanning, MD, FAAFP (Lawrence)

KAFP President’s Letter

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
– Albert Einstein

If you believe Einstein during the era of COVID-19, then all family physicians are certified geniuses after what has happened in 2020. Many of you have been thrust into vital roles in your clinic, your community, your family and your faith circles as COVID-19 has changed the world. This role change has been challenging and at times dangerous. I have never been more proud to be a family physician after witnessing the true colors of our specialty as each of you have exemplified how essential family medicine is during this public health emergency.

As I researched important messages about change, thankfully I found that change is a topic that has no shortage of references on the internet. That’s an important point to make. Change is something that is constant in life. Whether this is a good or bad thing is dependent upon your point of view. Benjamin Franklin said, “Change is the only constant in life. One’s ability to adapt to those changes will determine your success in life.” I was reading through past presidents’ first letters in the Kansas Family Physician journal and found that more than a couple of them have written about change. Even past president and now Board Chair Dr. Sheryl Beard, had an excellent letter last year on change in the Spring 2020 issue of the KFP. It appears just as relevant this year as ever. I encourage you to reread her letter on our website at kafponline.org. It is without a doubt that COVID-19’s change to our daily lives is immeasurable and cannot be ignored.

Think back to February when everything was going as usual. Flu season was on a hot streak. Patients were not hesitant to come to their doctor in fear of getting sick. Family physicians were arguing with patients about taking the flu shots. KU was getting closer to maybe a national championship. Politics was pretty much….politics as usual. I miss those days.

Fast forward six months and now work is complicated: telehealth, travel restrictions, constantly changing COVID-19 data; exposure counseling, telephone vs. in-person visits; COVID-19 swabs, PPE; wearing masks ALL the time; ever-changing logistics of your clinics and hospitals; constant staff questions; and lots of Zoom. Communication has never been more important.

Home life and social life has also changed: more family time and work at the house; less vacations and socializing with friends; more grocery shopping, relaxing at home and family walks; less eating out, pool time and kids’ practices.

Doesn’t February seem like a long time ago? Think of everything that has changed in the first half of 2020. Everything. Your job, your family, your social life, your practice and your KAFP. Every year, we get used to the normal cadence of life.

“That is a trick of human nature. We get used to things.”
– R.J Palacio

But despite COVID-19, some things in our lives have stayed the same: The usual stresses of clinic and family life and still providing top notch, evidence-based, scientifically-grounded, medical care in the clinic and hospital. Likewise, your KAFP continues to move on with its usual changes as well.

As your newly elected KAFP president for 2020-2021, I want to thank the KAFP membership for their trust by putting me in this vital role at this important time. Unfortunately, with the cancelation of our annual meeting, COVID-19 has eliminated the usual pomp and circumstance associated with this leadership transition. While it would have been enjoyable to tell everyone my story, my goals and introduce you to my family in person, COVID-19 has changed those plans. Honestly, I was saddened that I couldn’t wear the presidential medallion in front of you and “rule” the meeting with the traditional gavel. I wish I could have socialized with each of you and absorbed your feedback on how to make KAFP better this year. Nevertheless, this is what COVID-19 has done to our world and our KAFP. As you may know, many newly elected KAFP presidents have had the opportunity to recognize their family during their presidential speech. I’m not going to miss this opportunity to publicly thank my wife, Meredith, for her unwavering support as I have been increasingly tied to Zoom meetings with the KAFP, hospital and clinic leadership roles. I love her dearly and could not imagine anyone else with whom I’d like to experience life with and raise a family. I’d like to acknowledge and thank my parents, Marlin and Mary, for giving me the tools to achieve what I’ve been born to do. And I can’t forget my children, Luke and Evan, who continue to provide life perspective with all the uneasiness in 2020. Sometimes life can be as simple and rewarding as getting up to catch fish at 6:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning during COVID-19 uncertainty.

While our annual meeting may have been canceled, never fear, our board of directors, executive committee and standing committees are continuing KAFP’s mission by using up bandwidth on Zoom. Our volunteer physicians’ dedication to the KAFP mission has never failed. We will continue our 2019-20 objectives and now adapt our future goals with the COVID-19 challenge in mind. I invite any KAFP member who has never participated in our committees to try it out this year. I welcome and encourage you to look over our committee descriptions and invite you to sign up at: https://bit.ly/33QVBrF.

As your president for the upcoming year, I have some reasonable goals. I will continue efforts at restructuring our board composition to adjust to the pressures of the 21st century and provide a balance between effectively using volunteer physician time and becoming a potent, proactive board. I will continue to steer our organization carefully through changes caused by COVID-19. I will push the KAFP to provide programming directed at recognizing and addressing racial disparities in health care and beyond (already planning upcoming programs on implicit bias training). I’ll work to continue the smooth transition of our relatively new CEO, Tarah Remington Brown and our KAFP staff to a virtual office setting. I would like to outreach to others who are loosely involved with KAFP by encouraging participation with our committee structures in the areas of education, membership services or advocacy. I will continue KAFP’s championing of science in its advocacy efforts in Topeka. Lastly, I want to continue efforts to sharpen our effective communication with our members especially in the area of practice enhancement and advocacy. I will strive to guide our Board and committees toward these goals this year. We may not get it right initially, but our goal will be to get it right ultimately. I encourage any members to reach out and provide feedback or concerns directly to me at: cjohanning@gmail.com.

As a human being we tend to resist change.

“Don’t be afraid of change. It’s leading you to a new beginning.”
– Chad Johanning, MD

As president of the KAFP, I plan to steer our organization through uncharted waters this year and keep our mission and priorities clear. I feel especially blessed to be in this position at this important time for our organization and I look forward to the opportunity to be your KAFP president this upcoming year. Thank you again.

Sincerely,

Chad Johanning, MD, FAAFP
President