August 2020

President's Message

Today Nicky (my dog) and I went for a walk. He walked alongside me for about a mile, then ran out of energy and wanted to be carried home. He was done. In reflection, I am sure many of us feel the same way right now – tired, out of energy, and just waiting for life to return to normalcy.

The other day I came across a powerful Facebook post by Glennon Doyle, and it gave me pause: “That is the one thing I need my children to know about themselves: Nothing will destroy them. So, I do not want to protect them from life’s fires; I want to point them toward the fire and say, ‘I see your fear, and it’s big. I also see your courage, and it’s bigger. We can do hard things baby. We are fireproof.’”

This post made me think about how I raised my two daughters. Did I raise them to be strong and resilient so they could face this pandemic with optimism, strength, and courage? Right now, we could all use help building our resilience and finding ways to take care of our physical, spiritual, and mental health.

Two of the TMA Alliance’s recent offerings were created with the intention of helping our members with these struggles. Our online enrichment webinar series, which launched in June, provides free monthly educational programming. So far, we have learned how to deal with uncertainty and to identify and communicate negative feelings. This month, John Salter, PhD, will teach us how our behaviors influence financial decisions. Check out the enrichment series webpage to view recordings from June and July, and to preregister for August’s session.

We are very excited to announce our second program, the TMAA Fall Fitness Challenge. The event will run from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, and you can preregister now. It is free to participate, and you don’t need any complicated tools or fitness trackers. You can compete in a step challenge or work to log the most activity minutes. The MoveSpring app also provides daily exercises, nutrition tips, and more. To complement the fitness challenge, we also are creating a TMA Alliance cookbook filled with YOUR healthy recipes. Send your recipe(s) and photos to Sasha. A PDF of the cookbook will be made available to all members for free!

Let's use this time to get stronger together.

Martha Vijjeswarapu
TMA Alliance 2020-21 President

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Save the Date: Your Psychology and Your Money

As a continuation of our online enrichment webinars, John Salter, PhD, will explain how our psychology impacts our financial decisions, unfortunately not always is a helpful way. This webinar will enable you to better understand your emotions about financial decisions and make better decisions by recognizing the cognitive biases we all have simply by being human.

TMAA enrichment webinars are open to all members at no cost. RSVP below.

Thursday, August 20
Noon-1 pm

A recording of the webinar will be made available afterwards.

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Fall Fitness Challenge

As we all work to build resiliency this year, join us in TMAA’s Fall Fitness Challenge Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.

This free challenge is open to all TMAA members. We will use the MoveSpring app, which allows you either to enter your data manually or to connect to a fitness tracker. You can compete in a step challenge or an activity challenge (or both, if you’re feeling ambitious!).

Preregistration is open now, so fill out this form, and we will email you when registration opens at the end of this month.

To help in your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, we also will release a cookbook filled with recipes submitted by our very own alliance members! Please email your healthy(ish) recipes to Sasha. We’d love to see pictures of your dishes as well, so get those cameras ready and send in your recipes by Thursday, Aug. 27.

Preregister Today!

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County Spotlight: Bexar County Medical Society Alliance

Founded in 1917, Bexar County Medical Society Alliance (BCMSA) has served the medical community of San Antonio for more than 100 years. BCMSA began as a group of physician spouses sewing surgical gowns, rolling bandages, and knitting mufflers for World War I soldiers. Although BCMSA started out like many others, it is a unique and family-focused group, much like its home community of San Antonio. The group is diverse in age and ethnicity but bound together in combining creative energies to support each other, make a difference in Bexar County, and advocate for the patient-physician relationship.

Community Outreach
BCSMA is focused on improving and helping its community, and takes every opportunity to do so. Every general membership meeting has a charity component where a local organization sets up a table to accept donations and speak to the group about its mission, like ending human trafficking. BCMSA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads outreach created lasting partnerships with Rudder Middle School and YWCA San Antonio, both of which serve families in need. Most recently, BCMSA has been working with The Mitchell Chang Foundation to provide masks to families in ZIP codes with the highest COVID-19 rates and economic need. Additionally, in March, BCMSA created a “we come to you” personal protective equipment (PPE) drive with volunteers spanning the county to pick up donations in their area of town. Nearly 2,000 items of PPE were collected and donated to The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), whose physicians and other medical team members staff the county hospital.

Medical Scholarships
BCMSA’s Allied Health Scholarship program provides scholarships for students pursuing health care careers. In 2017, the Centennial Celebration raised $40,000 for these scholarships. This year, because of COVID-19, the scholarship committee met virtually to award five scholarships. BCSMA also created two new medical student scholarships, one for a medical student at UTHSCSA and one for a student at University of Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM). For Doctors’ Day 2020, BCMSA collaborated with UIWSOM. Although the scheduled golf tournament had to be canceled, the alliance was still able to raise and donate money for a scholarship fund to pay a fourth-year medical student’s expenses.

BCMSA Goes Virtual
While many county alliances have made changes due to COVID-19, BCMSA has excelled at helping members connect virtually through late-night Cinco de Mayo Bingo, a Zoom 101 for Beginners webinar, and a Facebook Live event on decluttering the home. The board of directors has been meeting virtually since April, and each meeting begins with a “How are you doing?” check-in before opening any business. This summer, the alliance will continue virtual activities such as Nutrition Bytes with a registered dietitian, a financial planning seminar for members and spouses with a special emphasis on young physician families or those in training, and a virtual tour of San Antonio’s Holocaust Memorial Museum with survivor interviews. BCMSA’s monthly book club has also transitioned seamlessly into a virtual format. To ensure a wide range of social events to fit members at different stages of life, BCSMA has several recurring events: Coffee Socials, Sips & Dips, Let’s do Lunch, Alliance Eats, Lunch with Littles, and Ice Cream Socials for medical students.

Great leaders
This group is not afraid to change, nor are its members afraid of making their voices heard. Jenny Shepherd, TMAA VP of legislative affairs, recently earned an American Medical Association Alliance Legislative Education and Awareness Promotion Award for pioneering the Party of Medicine, a program that connects doctors and elected officials to support wise health care legislation.

Jenny isn’t the only BCMSA member serving on the statewide board. Bexar is also the new home to TMAA’s current president, Martha Vijjeswarapu, as well as TMAA President-Elect Jennifer Lewis, Resource Liaison Lori Boies, and Nominating Committee member Danielle Henkes.

1979-80 BCMSA President June Bratcher is credited with creating the grassroots advocacy model that has evolved into First Tuesdays at the Capitol. Some disparaged her for getting involved in “a man’s world,” but current members are eager to engage in First Tuesdays in the Districts. Bexar Alliance keeps a visible presence within the physician community by writing a monthly article for the medical society’s San Antonio Medicine Magazine, with members writing this year about the Family of Medicine.

BCMSA has really excelled in creatively meeting member needs, collaborating with community partners, and adapting to changes. Congratulations to Bexar County Medical Society Alliance on your success!

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Create a Healthy Now and Healthy Future With a TMAF Grant

Help your community to be healthier with a TMA Foundation (TMAF) grant by applying to the TMAF Medical Community Grant Programs.


TMAF accepts applications from TMA county medical societies and alliance and medical student chapters for community health improvement programs focused on any of TMA priorities in the areas of public health; science; and TMA organizational focus areas of population health, medical education, and quality of care.

Programs focused on the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged. Society and alliance chapters may apply for up to $7,500 in matching funds from the TMAF Medical Community Grant Program, and medical student chapters may apply for up to $3,000 in matching funds from the TMAF Medical Student Community Leadership Grants Program.

Multiple deadlines afford greater flexibility to applicants during continuing COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Deadline Aug. 15/Notification of funding mid-October,
  • Deadline Sept.15/Notification of funding mid-November, and
  • Deadline Nov. 15/Notification of funding last week of January.


TMA Foundation accepts applications through its online application portal. Go to the TMAF website to learn how to apply.

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COVID-19 Resources

TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center has ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, including guides on personal protective equipment distribution, resources on practice viability, and much more. Be sure to bookmark the page and check it frequently to stay up to date on COVID-19 in Texas.

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Nominations Open for 2021-22 Slate of Officers

The TMAA Nominating Committee is now taking applications for the 2021-22 Board of Directors. You can nominate yourself or your colleagues for the following positions:

  • President-elect,
  • Vice president of communications,
  • Vice president of community health & well-being,
  • Vice president of future planning,
  • Vice president of legislative and political action,
  • Vice president-elect of membership, and
  • Recording secretary.

Use the online form to submit your nominations, and feel free to share with members of your county.

Submit a Nomination

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We are running a feature in the Monthly Memo to answer frequently asked questions from our membership. One question that has come up recently is:

Q. What is the billing schedule for 2021 membership?
Billing for 2021 membership will begin on Sept. 1, 2020. This is the full schedule for renewal notices:
Sept. 9: Renewal email to all current members
Oct. 7: First mailed invoice + TMAA brochure
Nov. 11: Renewal email reminder
Dec. 9: Renewal email reminder
Jan. 13: Second mailed invoice + email reminder
Feb. 10: Email reminder
March 9: Final invoice + email reminder
March 31: Delinquent date

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Upcoming Events

In addition to the events below, please be sure to check out our new calendar, where you can sort events by county. If your chapter has an upcoming event you would like featured, email details (date, time, location, ticket prices, description) to Sasha.

Aug. 13
County Leadership Listening Session (virtual)

Aug. 20
TMAA Enrichment Series: Your Psychology & Your Money

Sept. 10
County Leadership Listening Session (virtual)
TMAA Finance Committee (virtual)
TMAA Board of Directors meeting (virtual)

Sept. 17
TMAA Enrichment Series: TBA

Oct. 2
TMAA Regional Conference (virtual)
Registration opens soon. 

Oct. 15
TMAA Enrichment Series: TBA