NCAFP Members Learn and Reunite at the 2023 Winter Family Physicians Weekend

NCAFP Members Learn and Reunite at the 2023 Winter Family Physicians Weekend

December 12, 2023

NCAFP Members Learn and Reunite at the 2023 Winter Family Physicians Weekend

By Kevin LaTorre 
Communications and Membership Manager

From Nov. 30 through Dec. 3, the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians (NCAFP) hosted the 2023 Winter Family Physicians Weekend at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Over 750 attendees arrived to learn new techniques and insights during 33.5 hours of educational sessions but still had plenty of time to socialize with friends and colleagues. “The Winter Family Physicians Weekend is my favorite NCAFP program to plan!” says NCAFP’s Director of CME and Events, Kathryn Atkinson, CMP. “I am delighted with this year’s turnout, and I am thrilled with all the kind comments and feedback we’ve already received from attendees.” 

“I look forward to it every year and am always pleased by the CME and networking,” said one attendee in a post-event survey.

NCAFP Members Learned the “Best CME” During the Four Days of Lectures and Workshops

The core of the event was the continuing medical education (CME) which members attended from Wednesday evening until Sunday morning. These sessions included lectures on every topic that a family physician could need to know: savvy glucose monitoring, digital workflow management, hypertension in elderly patients, mental and physical fitness for physicians, and many others. Throughout the course of the event, interested attendees could meet with the guest faculty members in the Meet the Expert area. There, they addressed specific questions, comments, and comparisons in longer conversations with their audience members. In addition to the lectures that occurred in the main lecture hall of the Vanderbilt Wing, the event also included optional CME workshops for hands-on instruction and practice in smaller settings. “This is the best CME of the year,” said one attendee. “I love the diversity of topics.”

There were several sessions that attendees mentioned as highlights, though we can’t mention them all here. On Friday Dec. 1, the “How Value-Based Care Can Positively Impact Your Practice and Your Bottom Line” panel gathered three experts to discuss this model of primary care with NCAFP Exec. Vice President and CEO Greg Griggs discussing value-based payment with Purva Ruwal, PhD, Chief Strategy Officer at the CMS Innovation Center; Stephen Friedhoff, MD, Senior Vice President of Health Services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC; and Tom Wroth, MD, President and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina.

That panel preceded the hourlong address from NC Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley later that afternoon, when he recounted the advances of primary care from the 2023-24 state budget, celebrated the Dec. 1 expansion of Medicaid, and explained the areas of public health which primary care can still help address. “We were able to get $220 million for behavioral health rate increases, and that’s great,” said Kinsley. “Now let’s get the same amount of money or more for everything else, like physician rates. We can’t just raise one part of the ship and not the other. Being arm-in-arm with you family physicians to go after primary care investment is critical.”

Taken together, the two sessions demonstrated all the promise of future primary care and invited NCAFP members to take it up in their own practices and on their patients’ behalf.

But a different workshop on Dec. 3 outlined the promise of what family physicians can do for their own workloads and well-being: the “Improving Physician Wellness by Reducing Administrative Burden” CME lunch with Dr. Angla Bacigalupo, Dr. Elizabeth Baltaro, and Dr. Damian McHugh. Given that the NCAFP has long worked to reduce administrative burden for family physicians and champion efforts to prevent burnout, this workshop — that combined the two into actionable education — was a must-have addition to the event.

Another great addition was the lineup of exhibiting vendors available to discuss their job opportunities, services, and products with attendees. They met with attendees during mid-morning breaks, the formal resident fair, and any other time they had a moment to chat. Many of the physicians visited with multiple vendors over the course of the weekend — congratulations to Dr. Anitha Lokesh, Dr. McArthur Cadet, and Dr. Lynetta Stiltner, who all won a gift-card raffle after visiting over 25 of our event 70-plus exhibitors!

Members also enjoyed the company of their fellow physicians throughout the 2023 Winter Family Physicians Weekend.

For one thing, all attendees shared time and conversation together throughout the event. Many members return to the Winter Family Physicians Weekend year after year in part to see their old friends and fellow family physicians spread across North Carolina and beyond. “It’s always such an engaging conference,” said one attendee, “and it’s wonderful to network with so many amazing family docs.”

They spent their time together during each day’s buffet breakfast, between the CME sessions, in the networking lounge, and during the Dec. 2 Presidential Gala. Here, their camaraderie happened over plates of tasty food, at tables full of attendees and their loved ones, and on the dance floor once the live band took the stage. Make sure you see the photo-booth pictures that our members took of themselves, complete with Viking helmets, outsize sunglasses, and feather boas!

The Presidential Gala also included the induction of the 2023-24 NCAFP officers, the installation speech from NCAFP President Dr. Garett Franklin, and a charity auction for the NCAFP Foundation. These events were items of official NCAFP business but also an important part of attendees’ time together as NCAFP members. “The NCAFP does really feel like a small group, and I love that,” said one attendee.

The auction items which attendees purchased included Carolina Panthers tickets, Charlotte Hornets tickets, and other valuable items donated by NCAFP members to support the NCAFP Foundation’s student programming. All proceeds from the auction will support the Foundation’s endowment, which funds more opportunities for medical students to experience and enter Family Medicine, so that the specialty will continue to serve patients across North Carolina.

Camaraderie between NCAFP members also turned the Dec. 1 State of the Academy and Awards Lunch into a social event, not just an award ceremony for 36 recipients of the 2023 AAFP Degree of Fellow and the numerous other awards presented at the lunch. Again, attendees and their guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of others while enjoying great food and a room full of their peers. “I loved the chances to network and form community,” said one attendee.

Thank You to Everyone Who Joined Us at the 2023 Winter Family Physicians Weekend!

We were glad to host all our attendees, guest faculty, and vendors throughout the event. No one would enjoy the Winter Family Physicians Weekend as they do without all of you in attendance, and we are grateful for your efforts and input.

“I’d like to extend a warm thank you to the many individuals (and their teams) who helped make the weekend so wildly successful,” says Kathryn. “This highly anticipated annual event would not have been possible without the exceptional guest faculty and their timely and impactful CME sessions or the many terrific vendors, sponsors, and supporters of family medicine. The Omni Grove Park Inn and their entire staff were incredibly attentive, and the Pinnacle AV Team produced a great show every day. I’d also like to give a big heartfelt thank you to our program chairs, Dr. Tamieka Howell and Dr. Tom White for their hard work and dedication to making this year’s program another stellar CME event. Finally, I’d like to sincerely thank the 750+ attendees for choosing to spend a weekend brimming with CME and camaraderie with us.”

When you have the chance, check out all our digital photo galleries to see the event for yourselves:

And be sure to mark your calendars now for the 2024 Winter Family Physicians Weekend in Asheville on Dec. 5-8. “My mind is already spinning with ideas for next year!” Kathryn says.