Polaris' first executive meeting 2014

News from Polaris - the WONCA North America region movement for young family doctors. Photo shows Polaris members with senior WONCA Leaders (l to r ) Steve Hawrylyshyn (Canada), Michael Kidd (WONCA President), Tamra Travers (USA), Aileen Standard Goldson (Jamaica), Ruth Wilson (WONCA North America region president), Victor Ng and Kyle Hoedebecke (USA and Polaris chair)

Polaris has been busy since its launch six months ago on World Family Doctor Day. We are happy to report on Polaris’ first executive meeting that recently took place November 12, 2014 during the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) annual Family Medicine Forum in Quebec City, Canada.

Polaris was formed in order to better promote family medicine globally, enhance international collaboration, identify and adopt best practices, and to represent North America’s medical students, Family Medicine residents, and junior physicians to the rest of the world. These efforts are led by our executive board composed of three representatives from each college including one young family physician in the first 5 years of practice, one resident, and one medical student, for a total of nine individuals.

At the meeting, Polaris representation from each of the CFPC, American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and Caribbean College of Family Physicians (CCFP) met in person for the first time in person since the launch of our Movement. Additional support came from the AAFP President, Bob Wergin, and WONCA President, Michael Kidd, who were both in attendance. In addition to making final touches on the Polaris constitution and overarching goals, we reviewed and clarified current projects, future plans, and deliverable action items. The work completed during this meeting has allowed us to make the final changes to the constitution prior to ratification at our next meeting in December.

Further positive energy and excitement filled the room as we discussed our multiple collaborations currently taking place in North America and around the world. Polaris has rapidly developed a large social media presence with intense global participation, which we have utilized in order to augment worldwide excitement surrounding our profession. One such project is the newly formed international social media based journal club to discuss current best practices. Additionally we lead an international Balint group that collaborates with both the American Balint Society and the International Balint Federation where meeting are held via videoconference to discuss the multi-faceted issues surrounding patient care using a narrative case-based discussion with an interdisciplinary team and representatives from each WONCA region.

Our team has also created vast amounts of participation and excitement for family medicine through the “1 Word for Family Medicine” initiative (see #1WordforFamilyMedicine on Facebook and Twitter) where unique word clouds (see examples) are created from the combination of individual responses.

Finally, we are all very excited about the Polaris-led three tiered global leader certification called ASPIRE, which is currently being finalized. Currently a small pilot proof-of-concept is being performed and evaluated. When enacted on a global scale, ASPIRE with help students, residents, and junior family physicians solidify their leadership/mentorship skills through international presentations, research, Young Doctor Movement (YDM) participation, and other collaborations. These components will serve to achieve many of the goals set by the WONCA executive as well as augment interest in global health and family medicine as a whole.

Later in the week, we participated in the annual Canadian Global Health Conference that occurred in conjunction with the general CFPC conference. It was an incredible experience allowing access to international leaders in the global health community. During one session, Kyle Hoedebecke (US young family physician), Steve Hawrylyshyn (Canada family medicine resident), Aileen Standard-Goldson (CCFP representative) presented the story behind the creation of Polaris, its goals and objectives, and the current projects underway. We were showered with positive encouragement, support, and general excitement for Polaris and our current endeavors.
With our first executive meeting behind us, Polaris’ blueprint has been created and its foundation laid. We must now implement our plans and continue construction of this community of collaboration, learning, and friendship.

Tamra Travers (USA), AAFP medical student representative to Polaris
Kyle Hoedebecke (USA), AAFP new physician representative to Polaris
Steve Hawrylyshyn (Canada), CFPC resident representative to Polaris
Aileen Standard Goldson (Jamaica), CCFP family physician representative to Polaris