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TMA Board of Trustees July Meeting Summary

July 22, 2022

Nashville, TN — The TMA Board of Trustees held its quarterly meeting from July 8-10 in Memphis. In addition to the customary quarterly board meeting agenda, the meeting served as the Board planning retreat.

Highlights from the Board meeting included:

  • Dialogue and consideration of communications regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion. TMA will provide members with resources to stay abreast of the changes in Tennessee law in the coming month. This information will be made available at
  • Discussed TMA House of Delegates Resolution No. 15-22 dealing with Tennessee firearms education and safety. In May, this was referred to the Board for study and to report back to the House of Delegates. The Board reviewed current law, legislative and executive office positioning, and discussed other professional groups that TMA should meet with to gain more information as it evaluates the role for the association and subsequent positioning as this debate continues in our state and nation. The Board will reach out to TMA’s mental health colleagues.
  • Approved the 2023 TMA legislative agenda, as submitted by the Legislative Committee. Priority issues include:
    • Independent practice/scope bills
    • Prior authorization regulations by payers
    • Physician wellness protections
    • Protection for physicians against faceless, baseless complaints filed with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners
    • Support to file legislation to prohibit criminal charges against providers for bad outcomes from normal service delivery
    • Support of legislation to allow registered pain clinics to use telemedicine for services other than opioid prescribing
  • Dr. Harish Manyam of Chattanooga was approved to replace Dr. James Haynes on the Legislative Committee. Dr. Dawn Barlow of Cookeville was also approved to serve on the Legislative Committee, replacing Dr. Jim Batson.
  • Reviewed and approved use of a new collaborative communications tool for the Board to use for its business, document storage and online discussions. Plans are to expand use to all TMA committees later this year.
  • Approved the use of a web-based election tool for the 2023 TMA statewide and regional elections in February.

Summary of Planning Discussions

Physician Wellness — The Board spent additional time discussing the current undertakings and opportunities for TMA to increase activities to help physicians dealing with career burnout and personal well-being. The Board resolved to:

  • Make existing programs more accessible statewide
  • Increase general awareness of the issue of physician wellness and burnout
  • Engage in state-level advocacy to protect physicians who seek and receive help

Public Communications — The board discussed TMA’s efforts to communicate publicly through the media to express TMA positions on relevant issues to physicians and patients.

Rural Access to Care — As a farther-reaching goal to help improve the care of all Tennesseans, especially those living in parts of our state without easier access to medical services and physicians, the Board discussed a number of concepts to help advance/boost access and expand physician services.

  • More expansive use of telehealth services
  • Use county health departments as the hub for services. All counties have this infrastructure and can address the travel distances for many in rural areas.
  • GME placement – work to ensure physicians in training and GME programs place physicians in rural communities for experience.
  • Education loan repayment – Lack of awareness seemed to indicate there is much work to perform to better market and communicate various programs. A role for TMA may be to match open positions with candidates and collaborate more with the state.
  • Project Access connector – there should be a coordinated effort to support the growth of Project Access programs outside of the Metro markets and surrounding counties.

Diversity and Inclusion — TMA has worked to increase the diversity of its members and leaders for a number of years. The conversation greatly changed over the last several years. TMA will continue to work plans in place to make TMA leadership and committees more reflective of all physicians practicing in the state.

Urban-Rural Market Issues — The board discussed that there has been tension in the organization between members and leaders in urban markets and those in other areas of the state for the past few years. The consensus was that it has receded, but TMA should remain aware and make efforts to reach out more directly to the suburban and rural societies and members while remaining cognizant and sensitive to the challenges that rural members face and acknowledge their issues are real and equally important.

Grow TMA PAC — The Board discussed the priority of growing TMA’s political action committee. Our advocacy goals have better opportunities for success if we are working with politicians sympathetic to the ideas and needs of physicians.

Membership — As a membership organization, TMA’s constant recruitment and retention of members is always a priority. The Board discussed more specific areas that can be emphasized and improved, such as:

  • Continue promoting the discount for first-year members to all, not only those new to practice.
  • Participate in a focus group for younger, early-career physicians.
  • Grow efforts to work smaller physician groups and individuals in more rural counties and markets.
  • Work more with residents about preparing for future careers. Consider a job board to better promote opportunities to stay in Tennessee with member practices.
  • Consider a placement service for members and more educational engagement of residents on issues such as contracts, billing and coding and interviewing.