It Is the Best of Times, It Is the
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162 March 2006 Family Medicine President’s Column It Is the Best of Times, It Is the Worst of Times William K. Mygdal, EdD If you majored in the humanities in education and social mobility. The Done Major Damage.” Here are college, or took a literature survey economy quickly created much two examples of major damage: course, or just like to read classic greater wealth as the French bour- the Faculty Development Center stories, you’ll recognize that my geoisie was freed from the shack- that I head lost 48% of its annual column title is a repetition of the les of the old social order. The budget from these Title VII cuts, ﬁrst two phrases of Charles Dick- Revolution’s downside was that and a chair I know told me this ens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities.1 this rapid change came at the cost week that he may have to lay off Dickens’ subject in that stirring of great social and political insta- four people. book is the French Revolution, bility. There were several difﬁcult One way to react to these fund- with all its attendant promise and decades, which included the Reign ing cuts and other challenges is to its very real dangers. His opening of Terror and the Napoleonic era, let our thinking focus on negative lines continue as quoted below, until stability was achieved. A les- and irrational thoughts. We could, eerily foreshadowing our alternat- son from this and other movements for example, think of our current ing feelings of hope and discour- is that social change is messy, dif- predicament as a “season of dark- agement, uncertainty and resolve ﬁcult, and ambiguous. ness,” or a “winter of despair.” We as we contemplate the future of our You’ve probably heard the news could voice doubts about our long- discipline: about the recent blow to Title VII term prospects and talk ourselves funding, but let me recap: On De- into a funk: “Who are we kidding? It was the age of wisdom, it was cember 30, 2005, President Bush Family medicine never gets the the age of foolishness, signed the Labor-HHS Appropria- support it deserves.” It would be It was the epoch of belief, it was tions Bill. This legislation reduced easy to do, but I think we’d be the epoch of incredulity, funding for Title VII of the Public wrong. It was the season of light, it was Health Service Act from $88 mil- Famed psychologist Albert El- the season of darkness, lion to $41 million, and it ruled lis3,4 alerted us to the dangers of It was the spring of hope, it was out new funding cycles. Currently dwelling on the discouraging, the the winter of despair. funded Title VII projects can thus negative, and the irrational, warn- complete their project activities ing against the mental habits of The upside of the Revolution— (with some cuts), but no new re- “awfulizing” and “catastrophiz- inspired by the American one 13 quests for proposals will be forth- ing.” He demonstrated in his books years earlier—was that it ushered coming. In the political judgment and lectures just how unproductive in a period of rapid social, political, of many, there is little possibility and unrealistic these habits of mind and economic change that helped that this funding will be restored really are. Following Ellis, I recom- shape the social and democratic in its present form. mend instead that we work to think structures of the Western world. These funding reductions have rationally and positively and that Citizens rapidly gained the right been long predicted, and they’ve we get to work ﬁnding solutions. to vote and the opportunity for finally become a reality. STFM We need to be tough-minded, and Government Relations Director we must remind ourselves regularly Hope Wittenberg’s headline for her that social change, including the (Fam Med 2006;38(3):162-3.) December 2005 Messenger column 4 decades of the family medicine was “The Wolf Has Arrived.”2 movement, is messy, difﬁcult, and The headline for the current situa- ambiguous. From the Faculty Development Center, Waco, tion could well read “The Wolf Is You may be thinking “What Tex. in the Chicken House—and Has ‘sources of light’ can Mygdal pos- President’s Column Vol. 38, No. 3 163 sibly point to?” Or “This is a spring Let’s put this in context: the They will be supported in their ef- of hope?” Or “Is he daft?” US philanthropic community do- forts by the fellowship faculty who No, I’m not daft; the reason I can nated almost $250 billion to wor- will provide regular weekly tutor- be optimistic is that your Society thy causes in 2004, and that was ing and coaching to the fellows. anticipated just such a change in over and above the large amounts Fellows will report their progress Title VII funding over a year ago of dollars awarded by federal and during a session on April 27 at the and created the New Partners state agencies interested in health 2006 Annual Spring Conference Initiative (NPI) as a response. care. That’s right—$250 billion! in San Francisco. In addition, a Through the NPI, the leadership of The workshop leaders believe that second Academic Fundraising STFM seeks to create relationships family medicine faculty members Workshop will be held April 25–26 with foundations, corporations, have been setting their sights too as a preconference session in San government agencies, and groups low. They feel that the time is here Francisco. Details for this offering that share common interests with to dream big and to learn how to can be found at www.fmec.net. the family of family medicine. Over raise the funds to support one’s So, you see, in a small way it is time, NPI can yield positive results vision. the spring of hope and the season for the organizations with which How successful was the work- of light. By our efforts to learn you work and for our Society. shop? Larry Bauer, the Academic new skills now, we’ll be able 10 I don’t yet have evidence of NPI’s Fundraising Workshop lead faculty years from now to look back on long-term effectiveness, but it has member, told me, “I think we hit a this period and call it the “epoch begun in outstanding fashion. I home run.” One hundred percent of belief.” described earlier5 the outstand- of the participants said they would Thanks for your involvement and ing fundraising experts who have “recommend this workshop to col- commitment. joined NPI’s Think Tank, our proj- leagues.” Ninety-ﬁve percent of the ect advisory panel. participants reported that they feel Correspondence: Address correspondence to Dr Mygdal, Faculty Development Center, Now I’d like to describe the ﬁrst “more conﬁdent that they can suc- 1600 Providence Drive, Waco, TX 76707- Academic Fundraising Workshop ceed in implementing a fundraising 0276. 254-752-2636. Fax: 254-756-0358. that took place in Indianapolis in initiative in their home organiza- firstname.lastname@example.org. December 2005. This 2-day work- tion.” Other comments included: shop is designed to prepare family • “Powerful! Exceeded my ex- REFERENCES medicine faculty to understand pectations!” and begin to master the world of • “I have never been to a confer- 1. Dickens C. A tale of two cities. Pleasantville, philanthropy. Twenty-eight family ence/workshop that is so joyful.” NY: Reader’s Digest Edition, 1984. 2. Wittenberg H. The wolf has arrived. STFM medicine leaders completed the • “This will help us reorganize Messenger 2005;25(6):5,7. program. Five of the participants our department’s infrastructure to 3. Ellis A, Harper RA. A guide to rational began a yearlong fellowship experi- help make fundraising effective.” living. Chatsworth, Calif: Wilshire Book Company, 1976. ence designed to help them achieve The Academic Fundraising 4. Ellis A, MacLaren C. Rational emotive speciﬁc fundraising goals. Partici- Workshop serves as the kickoff behavior therapy: a therapist’s guide. Atas- pants included mid-career to senior experience for five Fundraising cadero, Calif: Impact Publishers Inc, 2004. 5. Mygdal WK. Our medical and medical family medicine faculty seeking Fellows who, during the coming education crisis—a bursting point? Fam Med new strategies to support their pas- year, will pursue their individual 2005;37(9):615-6. sions, projects, and interests. passions, projects, and visions.