State's Largest Professional Organization for Doctors Tackles Scope of Practice, Other Issues

May 2, 2017

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Medical Association House of Delegates held its annual business meeting in Nashville on Saturday, April 29. Approximately 150 physicians representing a wide range of medical specialties, practice environments and geographic areas of the state attended to debate and set policies of the Association, usher in new officers and recognize individuals and organizations with awards.

“This annual deliberative forum for nearly 200 years has been the most effective way for large numbers of Tennessee physicians to weigh in on real healthcare issues in our state and nation. The dialogue is critically important in setting the tone and direction of the organization and ensuring TMA represents the will of our members. Official policies enacted here tell lawmakers, regulators and patients exactly where doctors stand on important topics,” said Jane Siegel, MD, an orthopedic surgeon from Nashville who during the event completed her three-year term as Speaker of the House of Delegates.

For the past several years, the House of Delegates has conducted its business during a larger, multi-day TMA convention including live continuing medical education courses. TMA opted to separate the House as a standalone event in 2017 and moving forward to allow leaders to focus exclusively on policies, officer transitions and awards.

TMA is among the partner organizations putting on a new medical convention Sept. 8-9 in Nashville. The inaugural TriMed Healthcare Education Summit will offer more than 50 hours of education on a wide range of healthcare topics.

Physician delegates in the House discussed nearly 30 resolutions affecting the practice of medicine in Tennessee, and patient health. Among the notable resolutions:

  • Call for TMA member physicians to participate in advocacy efforts with state officials to improve funding for graduate medical education, a topic in which TMA has been continually engaged for many years.

  • Investigate and pursue ways to make it measurably easier for doctors to complete the credentialing process for hospitals and health plans.

  • Educate patients and the general public about TMA’s position on physician-led, team-based healthcare delivery models, and important differences in training and education of different types of healthcare providers.

  • Continue opposing efforts that would allow for independent practice of advance practice nurses and physician assistants in Tennessee, while engaging in advocacy and public education efforts that support more integrated, collaborative care, with physicians as the definitive team leaders.

  • Expand opioid prescribing education efforts and work with other healthcare industry groups to give healthcare providers and patients convenient, effective resources to appropriately dispose of prescription drugs.

  • Use Graduate Medical Education and Continuing Medical Education credits to incentivize more Tennessee physicians to engage in various leadership roles.

Dr. Jack Lacey, former Chief Medical Officer at University of Tennessee Medical Center, delivered an informational report on Lincoln Memorial University’s (Harrogate, Tenn.) efforts to establish a Doctor of Medical Science degree for physician assistants. Sen. Richard Briggs, MD (R – Knoxville) sponsored a bill during the 2017 session of the Tennessee General Assembly that would allow the university to create the new designation for healthcare providers. TMA has been opposed to the measure because of a shortage of information available and concerns over confusion in the marketplace. Sen. Briggs and Dr. Lacey’s remarks were part of their statewide education effort prior to revisiting in the 2018 legislative session.

Dr. Keith G. Anderson of Memphis concluded his term as TMA’s top elected physician during the meeting and Dr. Nita Shumaker began her term as 2017-2018 President. Dr. Shumaker is a pediatrician in Chattanooga and is just the second female ever to serve as TMA President.

Several other TMA member physicians officially began their terms for 2017-2018 leadership positions.

  • Dr. James Ensor, an internal medicine specialist in Memphis, will serve as Chairman of the TMA Board of Trustees.

  • Dr. Peter Swarr, a pediatrician in Brentwood, will serve as Vice Chair of the TMA Board of Trustees.

  • Dr. Ted Taylor, a pediatrician in Johnson City, was reappointed as Secretary/Treasurer for the TMA.

  • Dr. Matthew L. Mancini, a Knoxville surgeon, will serve as TMA President-Elect.

  • Dr. Edward Capparelli, a family physician in Oneida, was elected to Speaker of the TMA House of Delegates.

  • Dr. Charles Leonard, a family physician in Talbott, was elected to Vice Speaker of the TMA House of Delegates.

The TMA Board of Trustees and House of Delegates recognized individual physician members and other organizations for exceptional leadership, contributions to medicine, and community service. The 2017 honorees are:

  • Outstanding Physician: Dr. Chris Fleming of Memphis, Dr. Barrett Rosen of Nashville, and Dr. Clifton Tennison of Knoxville

  • Distinguished Service: Dr. David Bruce of Chattanooga, Dr. Jack Lacey of Knoxville, and Dr. Adele Lewis of Nashville.

  • Community Service: Appalachian Mountain Project Access, La Paz Chattanooga, and Regina Mullins of Thistle Farms in Nashville.