September 2020

President's Message

September is when we start looking forward to fall – if only we could convince the weather to feel more like it. Imagine: leaves turning a picturesque mixture of yellow, orange, and brown; crisp, refreshing air that invigorates after the heat of summer. A few fortunate parts of our state will soon experience those pleasures, but as for the rest of us – let’s settle in and enjoy the sunshine for a couple more months! And as we wait for cooler weather to make its way toward us, let us use this time to focus on membership.

The TMA Alliance is made up of a fabulous group of people. Being the spouse of a physician is not the definition of who we are but just one aspect of our lives. We are women and men leading successful careers, raising families, and pursuing a passion for advocacy. By standing together and utilizing the power of grassroots advocacy, we build strong relationships with legislators. Our hard work supports our communities, patients, and the Family of Medicine.

When COVID took over our world, we did not shrink back but ran to the front lines and joined with county medical societies to organize donation drives for personal protective equipment and other supplies. We promote the health of our communities through bike helmet giveaways, educational symposiums, shot clinics, and so much more. No matter the crisis – a hurricane, tornado, or even a pandemic – we do not hide from challenges but instead find ways to help. From long-standing members to residents and those just entering their medical career, we all have a purpose with the alliance. I challenge all of us to bring a renewed vitality to strengthen our core. TMAA is:


At our heart is a strong sense of community. Alliance members understand the challenges facing the Family of Medicine through each stage of a physician’s career. From the struggles of medical school and residency to the stresses of full-time physician career, members provide mentorship, valuable networking, and, most importantly, unwavering support.


TMAA serves as the grassroots advocacy arm of the Texas Medical Association, launching the award-winning First Tuesdays at the Capitol in 2003, followed by First Tuesdays in the Districts in 2019. In small-group and one-on-one meetings with legislators, alliance members build relationships and ensure elected officials are current on issues affecting patients in their district.

Giving Back

For over a century, alliance members have worked to improve the health of Texans through TMA-sponsored programs like Hard Hats for Little Heads, Walk With a Doc, and Be Wise – ImmunizeSM, as well as TMAA’s own initiatives, such as our Opioid Awareness Symposium and the newly launched Texas BookShare program.

These values represent the heart of the alliance. I encourage everyone to reach out to those whom we have not seen in a while and invite them back, as well as to find the new families in town and welcome them. Keep inviting those who say no the first time. They say it takes at least five asks to finally succeed. If someone is hesitant about joining, you can even offer to pay for his or her first year so that person can get a taste of all the alliance has to offer.

Let’s make sure everyone knows what TMAA does for the Family of Medicine.

Martha Vijjeswarapu
TMA Alliance 2020-21 President

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

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Save the Date: TMAA Enrichment Series

Gretchen Fuller, MD

Martha Howell, MEd

Join us for an interactive workshop that invites you to challenge typical attitudes and approaches to conflict.

Conflict Engagement: Terminology and Skills to Navigate Real World Issues
Presented by Martha Howell, MEd, and Gretchen Fuller, MD
Thursday, Sept. 17
Noon-1 pm

Conflict offers an opportunity to learn new perspectives and deepen relationships. When approached with this mentality, conflict engagement can become a practice to embrace rather than something to avoid and fear. This webinar offers you an introduction to skills and practices to instill confidence when engaging in encounters where perspectives are not aligned.

TMAA enrichment webinars are open to all members.

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Already, more than 50 of you have joined our Fall Fitness Challenge, totaling over 500,000 steps and 2,000 activity minutes – and we’re just one week in!

If you haven’t yet joined, it’s not too late. The challenge is open to all TMAA members and is free to participate. We are using 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!).


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Submit Your Recipes for TMAA's Cookbook!

To help in your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, we are producing 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 your delicious recipes by Friday, Nov. 13!

Every fall, TMAA hosts the Regional Conference in a different city, providing leadership training, networking, and enrichment to members all over the state. Though COVID-19 prevents us from hosting our usual in-person events this year, we are excited to announce the 2020 Mini Regional Conference.

This year’s meeting will take place virtually on Friday, Oct. 2, from 11 am to 2 pm. It is free and open to all alliance members. There are three sessions to choose from, each hosted twice, so you can take your pick of two to attend. Learn about the sessions and register below.


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2021 Membership Campaign Underway

The 2021 Membership Renewal Campaign has begun. Look for an email Sept. 9 with your personalized auto-login information. All you need to do is click the link in the email, and it will take you directly to your TMAA account to renew your dues. [Note: Please do not forward this email to your colleagues as the email is personalized to your account only.]

Alliance members now have three ways to renew membership:

    1. Go online to (click on the blue “Renew” button in the upper-right corner if you’re a current member).
    2. Call TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 with credit card information.
    3. Mail an application form or paper statement with a check to TMA Alliance, 401 W. 15th St., Austin, TX 78701.
Each month, TMAA will send out another email reminder to members who have not renewed their 2021 membership.
We will mail a statement on Oct. 7 to members for whom we do not have an email address and have not renewed their membership. The full renewal notice schedule is below:
    Sept. 9: Renewal email to all current members
    Oct. 7: First mailed invoice (includes TMAA brochure)
    Nov. 11: Renewal email reminder
    Dec. 9: Renewal email reminder
    Jan. 13: Second mailed invoice + email reminder
    Feb. 10: Email reminder
    Mar. 9: Final invoice + email reminder
    Mar. 31: Delinquent date

Members will not receive the email notice or mailed statement once they renew their membership. The Membership Renewal Campaign ends on March 31, 2020. Members who have not paid by that date will be dropped.

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First Tuesdays in the Districts Goes Virtual

The pandemic has not stopped TMA physicians and TMAA members from meeting with their local legislators. For the last two months, county medical societies and their alliance chapters have jumped into action, holding virtual meetings with their local legislators. The informal virtual meetings have yielded candid and productive conversations about the upcoming session, how COVID has impacted our communities, and more. If you want to schedule a virtual First Tuesdays in the District meeting in your county, contact Pam Udall.

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County Spotlight: Nueces County Medical Society Alliance

Membership and Events
At 93 years and going strong, the Nueces County Medical Society Alliance (NCMSA) continues to grow, adding new members while those with experience guide the board and advise on what has been successful in the past. They plan activities for members of all ages: social luncheons, exercise classes, ladies’ nights out, and volunteer opportunities. With the onset of COVID-19, this alliance has pivoted to offer various activities for members. Two unique meetings coming up are virtual events: a cooking demonstration with Harold Ramos, chef at Corpus Christi Country Club, and a decluttering seminar by Clutter Queen Leslie Green. Good food and a clean house – what more could you ask for? The diverse membership, which spans all ages, comprises friends, colleagues, and volunteers with the common bond of being physician families.

Beyond membership events, NCMSA has hosted Hard Hats for Little Heads annually for the past 10 years. For Doctors Day, the alliance hosts a wine tasting, a fun social event to recognize the physicians in the community. Alongside Nueces County Medical Society, NCMSA has supported Walk With a Doc in Corpus Christi, and the two organizations jointly offer a Scholarship Endowment Fund that benefits students who have selected a health-related major at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. The two organizations work together on annual membership drives at a Newcomer Party and annual health fair for the county. The alliance attributes good communication and annually scheduled events to the success of this relationship.

Community Service
Outside TMAA programs, NCMSA has a strong, consistent record of volunteering time and money to the Food Bank of Corpus Christi, and this month it has an upcoming volunteer opportunity with the Coastal Food Bank. A program unique to NCMSA, Shop With a Cop, touches both the children and law enforcement of Nueces County by allowing members to donate money and time helping local police who have been paired with underprivileged children to buy necessities such as clothes, toiletries, and Christmas gifts. This has been a rewarding and successful partnership benefiting members, police, and, of course, the children who receive the gifts. As a sponsor of Shop With a Cop, NCMSA raises funds through its Annual Shopping Event. This year’s generous vendors include Kendra Scott, Stella & Dot, Holly Hock Market, Made in Corpus Christi, and Wildflowers. Due to COVID-19, this year it will be mostly an online event.

NCMSA also has a partnership with George Evans Elementary, where members coordinate Reading With a Doc, a program where NCMS doctors wearing their white coats and their spouses read to classrooms of students. This program also provides hygiene kits (with shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush) for these underprivileged children. About 98% of the students at this school live in poverty, so this year NCMSA is stepping up even more by having a book and clothing drive for them.

NCMSA has really supported all Texas physicians across the state through civic involvement. Alliance members have strong relationships with their representatives in the Texas Legislature and legislative staff members. They have consistently participated in First Tuesdays programs and held membership drives for TEXPAC. The alliance has also hosted Meet the Candidate events and fundraisers for medicine-friendly politicians. Part of this success has been the high level of involvement and communication regarding candidates and legislation. Past presidents and legislative liaisons Keely Hunsaker and Bridget McKeever both demonstrate how to meaningfully participate in the process of politics by staying informed, communicating with members, and communicating back with elected officials. Additionally, NCMSA has formed a separate PAC, DOCCPAC (Doctors of Corpus Christi PAC), to focus on judicial elections. NCMSA will host a virtual Meet the Candidate event this September.

The Nueces County Medical Society Alliance has a rich history of philanthropy, service, advocacy, and civic involvement. If you follow its social media, you can see how generous and fun this group is, and how active it is. NCMSA shares its own membership appreciation posts, highlighting all the hard work and compassion members share with their Gulf Coast community. This alliance is a great example of compassion meeting action.

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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
  • Recording secretary

Use the online form to submit your nominations, and feel free to share with members of your county. Nominations must be received by Sept. 15.

Submit a Nomination

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Make-A-Difference: Support Hard Hats for Little Heads

You can protect twice as many little Texans from head injury with your tax-deductible gift to TMA’s Hard Hats for Little Heads (HHLH) today.

A generous anonymous donor couple has pledged to the TMA Foundation (TMAF) a $10,500 matching gift for HHLH again this year if the foundation can raise the same through its Make-A-Difference campaign. Please consider making a gift to TMAF in an amount that is meaningful to you to ensure the foundation wins this generous matching gift.

Typically, Make-A-Difference is held during the TMAF annual gala. But due to COVID-19, the gala was canceled and that’s why your support is critical.

During the past 26 years, donors like you and TMA and TMA Alliance members who volunteer to bring HHLH to their communities have provided more than 350,000 helmets to little Texans. The need is likely to increase with more children skating or cycling because school and regular activities are being modified or canceled. You can help ensure increased bike riding does not mean increases in injuries by designating your TMA Foundation gift to Hard Hats for Little Heads.

On average, each year 29,000 young Texans receive a free, properly fitted helmet along with safety education to prevent a life-altering or fatal injury. That’s a cost of just $3.90 per child served. Learn more about Hard Hats for Little Heads.

"Make-A-Difference" in the life of a child with your gift today. Thank you for ensuring TMA and TMAA volunteers have helmets and educational materials for children who need them.

To make your donation over the phone, call Marilyn Anderson, TMAF data manager, at (800) 880-1300, ext. 1466. We recognize COVID-19 has made this a challenging time for many, and if you would prefer to pay your gift over time as a pledge, Marilyn can help you arrange a schedule that works for you.

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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.

Sept. 10
County Leadership Listening Session (virtual)

Sept. 17
TMAA Enrichment Series: Conflict Engagement: Terminology and Skills to Navigate Real World Issues - Register

Oct. 2
TMAA Regional Conference (virtual) - Register

Oct. 15
TMAA Enrichment Series: TBA