April 9, 1948: The Birthdate of the NC Academy of Family Physicians

April 9, 1948: The Birthdate of the NC Academy of Family Physicians

February 15, 2023

April 9, 1948: The Birthdate of the NC Academy of Family Physicians

By Greg Griggs, MPA and CAE

Executive Vice President and CEO

It may have been an innocuous date in 1948 for most individuals: April 9. But it wasn’t in the life of Family Medicine in North Carolina. That was the date that the NC Chapter of the American Academy of General Practice was officially chartered, and some 75 years later the NCAFP is still going strong. 
As we begin to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of our Chapter, we have been poring over some of our archives. Included in those archives is our official charter, which was verified by five of the original members of our chapter: Drs. John R. Bender, Roscoe D. McMillan, G. Grady Dixon, Vernon W. Taylor, and W.E. Selby. 
Just as a refresher on the formation of what was then the AAGP and now the AAFP: In June of 1947, a group of generalists gathered at the AMA Meeting to organize the American Academy of General Practice. After World War II, specialization was becoming more of a norm in medicine, and generalist physicians wanted to make sure their voices remained strong, which led to the formation of the AAGP. 
On Feb. 21, 1948, Missouri became the first state to constitute a chapter, followed by 32 other states that same year, including North Carolina. In March of 1948, AAGP established its headquarters in Kansas City. Later that summer, on June 21, the AAGP held the first meeting of the Congress of Delegates just prior to the Annual Meeting of the AMA at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago. Delegates from 26 chapters attended.  
It didn’t take long for CME to become a mainstay of the AAGP, holding the first Scientific Assembly in Cincinnati in early March of 1948 with 3,500 family physicians in attendance.  Thus, many of the tenets of the specialty were established very early in the history of the organization – from emphasizing continuing education to our form of policy development. 
In 1969, Family Medicine was officially recognized as a specialty in a stronger response to the increasing specialization of US medicine with patients being segregated by age, systems, or disease. In his seminal talk in 1979 and a subsequent article, G, Gayle Stephens, MD, highlighted the social-reform ethos and countercultural nature of the specialty of Family Medicine. His article stated: 
“It is my conviction that, on balance, the family practice movement has more in common with this counterculture than it does with the dominant scientific medical establishment. Maybe we never intended that it should be this way, and I doubt that many of us have an image of ourselves as revolutionaries. Most of us deal, on a day-to-day basis, with a much smaller quantum of reality; and, in truth, are much more motivated by purely personal goals than the heady stuff of national purpose. I suspect that this is the way all revolutions look from the inside.” 
Today the Family Medicine Revolution remains in full force, and the North Carolina Chapter has long played an important role in that national revolution.
For example, our Chapter has had four presidents of the AAGP/AAFP, including:  Dr. Amos Johnson (1964), Dr. James G. Jones (1987), Dr. Douglas E. Henley (1995), and Dr. Lori Heim (2009). And of course, Dr. Henley went on to serve as the Executive Vice President and CEO of the AAFP for many years. In addition, North Carolina has had five national Family Physicians of the Year, including the first female Family Physician of the Year, Dr. Jane Carswell (1984). Other national winners from North Carolina include Dr. J. Seaborn Blair, Jr. (1988), Dr. Melvin Pinn (1998), Dr. Maureen Murphy (2016), and Dr. Karen Smith (2017). 
Throughout this year, we will be highlighting the history of family medicine, the history of our Chapter, and the impact that your specialty has on our state and nation. Our CME, our magazine, and our e-newsletter will all emphasize the history of your organization. We hope you will join us as we examine the last 75 years and at the same time prepare for the future. While some of the problems that led to the formation of the AAGP still exist today, I truly believe we are on the cusp of a true Family Medicine Revolution, where every patient deserves — and has — a consistent and meaningful relationship with a family physician. 
Please join us on this journey of celebration for 75 years as we prepare for an eventful and successful future for family medicine!

The road to this milestone had many stops. Here's our dive into the highlights:

Graphic Used for 2/15 "Birthdate of the NCAFP" Article

About the NCAFP

The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, Inc. (NCAFP) is a nonprofit professional association headquartered in Raleigh which represents over 4,300 family physicians, family medicine residents, and medical students across the state. It is the largest medical specialty association in North Carolina and is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, based in Leadwood, KS.