July 2019


President's Message 

In the words of the legendary Jimmy Buffet, “Sailors go searching for the breeze.” These words rang true during our recent sailing trip in the islands. Every sailor seeks to capture the wind to move forward through the water with maximum speed and efficiency. Even though we tacked and trimmed to catch the light summer winds, most days ended by humbly dropping sail and motoring to our evening anchorage. We had to stay flexible – some days we even had to alter our route to accommodate the changing conditions.

What a metaphor for the TMA Alliance as we renew our programs, rebrand our materials, and reinvigorate our membership! Many of you are aware of membership trends over the past decade, and the identified gaps in recruitment. For example, when 50% of physicians are female, why does the Alliance’s male membership remain low? Expect to see some tacking and trimming this year as Alliance leadership tries out some new membership ideas. Some will work, and some may not. I sincerely pledge to give my best effort to elicit, select, and initiate the most promising ideas and move past the others.

One year ago, we celebrated the anniversary of the first century of the oldest alliance in the country, the Texas Medical Association Alliance. This year, we prepare ourselves not only to allow but also to EMBRACE changes that will keep us moving forward into our second century with maximum speed and efficiency!

Lisa Queralt, RN, MSN
TMA Alliance President

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AMAA Convention Highlights from Sunshine Moore

The TMA Alliance sent a small group of delegates last month to the American Medical Association Alliance Annual Meeting in Chicago. Joining me were Amanda Cutbirth (Nueces), Julie Dye (Nueces), Tricia Schneiderjan (Tarrant), Jenny Shepherd (Bexar), Janice Stachowiak (Lubbock), and Martha Vijjeswarapu (Nueces). It was a packed week of educational sessions, networking, and AMA Alliance business.

We attended the TMA Texas Chili Party over at AMA to support our physician delegation to AMA and celebrate Sue Bailey, MD, on her election as AMA president-elect. It is always a fun event but had extra special meaning this year as we celebrated Dr. Bailey’s leadership success.

We learned about body language – specifically that your dress, posture, and tone of voice have greater effect than your choice of words when speaking! We attended sessions on bylaws, grant writing, and social media. We learned about improving public speaking through the use of storytelling.

Tarrant County Medical Society Alliance (Fort Worth) received the Community Service/Health Education award for its Doctor’s Tribute Benefiting Project Access project. Keep an eye open for AMAA and Alliance Health Education Initiative award nominations to open next spring – usually in February – through the AMA Alliance LINK e-newsletter. You will receive this newsletter by email when your membership with AMAA is current – go to AMAalliance.org to join or renew.

Make plans now for someone from your county at attend next year’s convention: June 6-9, 2020, at the Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile in Chicago. It is a great educational opportunity for leaders at the county level.


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County Alliance Spotlight

This month, we are excited to continue sharing the amazing work of alliance members across the state by featuring the Lubbock County Medical Society Alliance (LCMSA).

LCMSA has spent the past 90 years supporting the health of all Texans. Through its most recent initiative, the alliance promoted awareness of sex trafficking by hosting community educational forums and distributing window clings for women’s public restrooms. Members also helped start – and continue to support – the South Plains Immunization Network (SPIN). Through SPIN, alliance volunteers work with other coalition members to hold flu, HPV, and pneumonia vaccine clinics.

In addition to local initiatives, LCMSA has made a powerful impact with TMA programs over the past 10 years. The alliance has held Hard Hats for Little Heads events at health fairs and back-to-school events around the city, and on the second Saturday of the month, you can usually find alliance members taking a Walk With a Doc, Piyush Mittal, MD, at Miller Park. The alliance is always looking for ways to help make Lubbock healthy!

Jointly with the Lubbock Medical Society Foundation, LCMSA plans to host a Mystery Dinner fundraiser in 2020. The alliance will use the funds raised for community health initiatives. In the past, funds have gone toward allied health and medical scholarships. The alliance takes pride in underwriting all the philanthropic outreach events.

On the legislative front, LCMSA helps educate its members about legislative advocacy by promoting and participating in TMA Alliance’s First Tuesdays at the Capitol, hosting legislative forums, interviewing legislators in election years, and block walking. Members are currently working with the Lubbock County Medical Society to launch First Tuesdays in the Districts, a grassroots advocacy program in conjunction with TMAA. The new program will help physicians and alliance members build stronger relationships with their local legislators.

If you’re ever in Lubbock, take some advice from the experts and fit in a visit to the Texas Tech University (TTU) campus to see its unique Spanish colonial-style architecture. Not only are there many things to do on campus, but also you can see the TTU System’s Public Art Collection, which has been named one of the top 10 university public art collections in the U.S. Why travel to Ireland when you can kiss a piece of the Blarney Stone right in West Texas? Finally, if you are a wine lover, Lubbock has one of the largest producers of wine in the U.S. Stop by Llano Estacada Winery and hear about how a few chemistry majors started their wine adventure in the TTU chemistry basement. It is a popular stop for weddings, graduation pictures, and, of course, wine tastings!


Around the State

Bell County Medical Alliance (BCMA) formally presented a $15,000 check to the Training Texas Physicians Fund. This amount will provide 10 stipends to help cover the cost associated with conference/travel expenses for residents and fellows to present their research. Monies were raised from the annual Wild West Casino Night fundraiser. Christian Cable, MD, director of graduate medical education with Baylor Scott & White, accepted the check presented by BCMA President Amee Tuggle.

Next year’s Casino Night will also be the BCMA 100th Birthday Bash – mark your calendar for April 4, 2020.

Nueces County Medical Society Alliance (NCMSA) held a Hard Hats for Little Heads event on Sunday, June 9, at Whataburger Field. The bike helmet giveaway was part of Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s 35th Annual Children’s Miracle Network Celebration. NCMSA volunteers Liz Farek, Bridget McKeever, Lindsey Rowe, and Elizabeth Vanexan staffed the table and assisted Driscoll physician Al Gest, MD, and a Driscoll resident with fitting and distributing helmets.

Lubbock County Medical Society Alliance (LCMSA) partnered with Lubbock County Medical Society to hold a pool party networking social on June 1. Neha and Piyush Mittal, MDs, sponsored the event. The alliance invited its members, including medical students and residents. Members of the county medical society and friends of Drs. Mittal were also invited. The event was a blast, with more than 300 attending the pool party at Texas Tech University.

At the Juneteenth Health Fair in MacKenzie Park on June 15, LCMSA gave out approximately 80 bicycle helmets. County society doctors, alliance members, and TTU Health Science Center medical and nursing students helped run the event.

LCMSA also held a Community, Connections, and Coffee event with TMAA Membership VP-Elect Chris McGilvery on July 3. The event provided an opportunity for resident physicians and their spouses to connect with alliance members, as well as for new and existing alliance members to network. Spouses and partners were invited to bring résumés to be connected with potential opportunities within the community. It was a great way for the alliance to offer support and connection for new resident families as one Family of Medicine.



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TMAA Board Member Gives Back

Rowland Pettit's recent trip to Costa Rica (C.R.) was not your typical summer vacation. For the past few years, Rowland, TMAA’s 2019-20 Alliance of Physicians in Training (APT) representative, has volunteered with Agua Viva Serves (AVS), a nonprofit based in Los Chiles, Costa Rica. We are excited to share his story with you and showcase just a small piece of the amazing work Alliance members do, both at home and around the world! Read on to hear about Rowland’s trip and AVS in his own words.


Los Chiles is a small town in the north, located on C.R.’s shared border with Nicaragua. As a border town, Los Chiles has become a resettlement location for migrants coming from Nicaragua looking for access to better education and job opportunities. Many of these families are unable to settle within the small city limits of Los Chiles and instead settle in the surrounding undeveloped regions, under very impoverished conditions.

In 2007, volunteers on a service trip to Los Chiles were made aware of a profound need for clean water in these pop-up communities. Diarrheal and other infectious diseases were rampant, as these communities largely only had access to unpurified surface water for drinking. However, 200 feet underground everywhere in this region exists abundant World Health Organization-grade purified drinking water. All that is needed is for someone to drill a well for these communities to access it. With a nongovernmental organization model based on established and sustainable clean water initiatives such as the Millennium Water Alliance, AVS has set out to meet this need for clean water in northern Costa Rica for the past 12 years.

I had a great opportunity recently to work on an AVS team. Each year AVS drills numerous small wells for neighborhood clusters (about eight homes). AVS also conducts one or two large-scale clean water projects each year with goals to provide for full communities. This year, AVS is working on a complete water system that will supply water to 160 homes and well over 800 people. I had the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of this project. Our team worked on the water tower that would supply the region. This consisted of digging, by hand, a total of five 5x5x5-ft. holes in clay to serve as footers for the soon-to-be-built water tower. We bent rebar to create anchor attachment points, lowered these structures into the dug footers, and filled the holes with hand-mixed concrete. It was a hard work but a remarkable experience to be a part of. I was happy to get to swing a pick axe, invest in relationships in this community, and overall have a change of pace from medical school. 

I would highly recommend serving on an existing trip with AVS, or creating a team and heading down yourself. AVS is available and drilling year round!



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Be Wise -- Immunize Updates

Since its inception in 2004, Be Wise – ImmunizeSM has provided more than 360,000 shots to Texas children, adolescents, and adults.

While this is no small accomplishment, the changing vaccination landscape has presented new challenges to the program, including vaccine hesitancy and a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases. In late 2018, TMA’s Council on Health Promotion established a workgroup to find ways to make it easier to participate in the Be Wise program and reach more communities. Find out more.


Be Wise – Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.

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Nominate Your New Board!

Nominations are now open for the 2020-21 TMAA Board of Directors. If you are interested in getting more involved with TMAA, or if you know of someone who would make an excellent leader, use our online form to submit a nomination before Sept. 1!



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Discover Your Super Powers

Discover your super powers at the 2019 TMAA Regional Conference in Tyler. Join us Oct.11 for a day of leadership training, membership development, networking, and fun! A schedule will be available on our website later this month, but for now, go ahead and reserve your hotel room. If you are arriving on the 10th, be sure to join us for our welcome reception at The Grove Kitchen + Gardens. We'll have drinks, light appetizers, and plenty of good conversation!

Book your room, and make sure to check back later this month for full details!



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