Keller pediatrician and long-term advocate Gary W. Floyd, MD, invoked George Strait and called on Texas Medical Association members to band together in the face of “more public questioning and pushback than we’ve ever encountered” during a speech to TMA’s House of Delegates on April 30, following his installation as the association’s 157th president.
This unity, he said, will be critical for organized medicine when facing these types of ongoing challenges and the inevitable new ones that will arise during his term.
“I’ll do all I can to protect the sanctity and the autonomy of our patient-physician interactions and I’ll do my best to stand as an obstacle to anyone who would encroach on our profession,” Dr. Floyd told his fellow colleagues.
His election crowns a decades-long career in organized medicine, and he said standing before his fellow TMA members was one of “the moments that takes your breath away.”
Over the last 43 years, Dr. Floyd’s said his guideposts – faith, family, and the profession of medicine – have remained steady as he urged physicians to "think about what’s most precious to you.”
For Dr. Floyd, since being introduced to Christianity by his wife while in medical school, he said he has relied on regular Bible study and his ongoing relationship with God to get through difficult times, whether navigating a chaotic emergency department, comforting a family whose child is critically ill, or taking on contentious objectors in the advocacy arena.
Dr. Floyd also has drawn strength from his families at home and at work. He and his wife, Karen, have been married for 47 years and share two daughters and three grandsons.
“My other family is all y’all,” he told the House of Delegates. “I can’t imagine my work life or advocacy life without the support and guidance of my organized medicine family.”
Growing up on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, in one of two pipe-yard-adjacent houses, he had a ritual. Whenever his pediatrician, “a great big man” named Charles Bielstein, MD, made house calls, he would make himself scarce, hiding under his parents’ bed. But these visits made a lasting impression. Dr. Floyd resolved to follow in his pediatrician’s footsteps, so he could be the sticker and not the “stickee.”
Dr. Floyd made good on his promise. Years later, his office as chief resident at the Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma was in a building posthumously named for Dr. Bielstein.
Meanwhile, he had also grown active in organized medicine, setting the stage for decades of advocacy on behalf of his patients and his colleagues alike.
“I realized that even though kids make up almost one-third of our population, they have no voice,” he said. “They need physicians like you and me to speak up for them.”
This realization fueled his advocacy endeavors, including the milestone passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997 and Texas tort reform in 2003. He also helped TMA broker a landmark bill with advanced practice nurses and physician assistants in 2013, which led to an improved model for delegated, team-based care.
Dr. Floyd said collegiality among physicians and uniting as an association will help TMA to build on its successes, such as a recent court win that could force the federal government to rewrite unfair rules tied to the federal surprise billing law.
He says his keys for effective advocacy are focusing on the issues at hand, planning measured responses, and keeping emotions in check. That last one is especially important for physicians, he said, given the ongoing challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must never let our profession be distracted from our dedication to our patients,” he said. “In the face of confusion coming out of this pandemic, it’s critical that we fortify the trust of our patients, communities, and legislators by doing the right thing for the right reasons. I truly look forward to working with you, my colleagues, as we face the challenges ahead.”