Q&A with Frances Biagioli, M.D., president-elect of Oregon Medical Association

January 18, 2013

Frances Biagioli, M.D., associate professor of family medicine, is president-elect of the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) – Oregon’s physician advocacy organization. She is also course director of the Principles of Clinical Medicine Preceptorship, and associate director of medical student education in the Department of Family Medicine.

FPP/Clinician Commons recently chatted with Dr. Biagioli to learn more about what her OMA leadership role entails and how she balances career, community work and family. Dr. Biagioli’s term as OMA president begins in April.

FPP/Clinician Commons: What will your role as president of the Oregon Medical Association entail?
Fran Biagioli: As OMA president I hope to increase active participation of the OMA members to demonstrate the value of OMA membership. The organization has a great deal to offer physicians in every mode of practice; I hope to connect specifically with employed physicians to help them understand the OMA’s value.

CC: Being a physician at OHSU ensures membership in the OMA. What are the top two or three benefits of being an OMA member?
FB: If you have an issue that prevents excellent medical care, instead of “cursing the darkness,” you can use the OMA to not only “light a candle,” but create a “bonfire” of help with your issue. In other words, OMA membership allows for an amplification of one voice. With the weight of the OMA behind you, you are not one lonely voice. The OMA collects and investigates issues, connects members to others with similar issues, provides a forum to create solutions and advocates for local and statewide changes in policy or legislative actions.

We all went into medicine to help others. However, some days it feels as if we are on the hamster wheel,and that we do not make a difference, and we even question our career path. The OMA helps fulfill our potential to help patients individually and in society. As an OMA member you can advocate for your patients, you can change policy, you can help a larger community other than your own patients and you can network with others with similar concerns and passions. The OMA is a COMMUNITY, it helps bring us together to make a difference.

CC: How can OHSU physicians become involved with OMA committees or events?
FB: The OMA has 14 committees and task forces which meet approximately once each quarter for two hours. Committees steer the work of the organization through developing education, policy, and programs for the organization. The roster of members is set each spring; you can find complete information about how to volunteer on the OMA website. Participating by teleconference is always an option, but in-person attendees get a great meal provided by the OMA’s catering team. If you have any questions about how best to participate, feel free to email me.

CC: How do you juggle your family practice at Gabriel Park, your role in medical student education, service such as this to OMA, and your personal life?
FB: Skillful juggling requires you to first set personal priorities. Once you set priorities, treat each priority like your children – some days one needs more attention and other days another needs it. My family receives my highest priority and patient care comes next – the rest of my “hats” all fall in well and most days I do not feel overwhelmed. Technology has really helped maintain the balance. For example, I can physically leave work early to finish charts or email while picking up my child from basketball practice. Phone conferencing with the OMA has been a great option. It has allowed me to be at home and while my kids are doing their homework, mom can do her “homework” at the same time.

In addition, balance requires not only the ability to say “yes,” but also to say “no” (or “no, but I can do…” Whatever I say “yes” to, I try to do exceptionally well. However, if I said yes to everything I would do a lot of things poorly. I can do it all, but I cannot do it all at once. So I try not to say “no,” but rather offer an alternative option such as: “I cannot help now, but I could fit it in (next week/month/year) … Would that time frame work for you?” or “If I said yes, I would not have the time to dedicate to do a good job, but I think X has some time they could commit and I know they would do a wonderful job. Would you like me to contact them for you?”



OHSU physicians interested in applying to an OMA committee should fill out a committee interest form and submit it to the OMA. OMA's president reviews interest forms once a year in the spring for appointments in June. Questions? Contact Jennifer Quisenberry at jenniferq@theoma.org or 503 619-8000.