The physician leaders of the Iowa Medical Society drive everything we do as an organization. Engagement with organized medicine helps develop both personal and professional leadership skills and IMS offers a host of options to do so. Opportunities extend beyond simply serving on the IMS Board of Directors to also include service as an Iowa representative to the AMA House of Delegates, service on two IMS-affiliated boards, and service on one of nine IMS standing committees.
IMS Elected & Appointed Leadership Roles
IMS Standing Committees
Each of the IMS standing committees focuses on a different aspect of the work of the organization. Appointments and reappointments are made annually by the new IMS President, with meeting frequency and timing varying by committee. For more information about the individual committees, please visit the
IMS Leadership Development Committee
At its September 2021 meeting, the IMS Board of Directors voted to recommend the formation of a new standing IMS Leadership Development Committee. This group is intended in part to replace the IMS Nominating Committee, which annually slates candidates for the elected leadership positions of the organization. It is also charged with providing an ongoing, holistic review of IMS leadership recruitment and selection processes, as well as providing additional opportunities for greater member engagement at every level of the organization.
Committee membership will consist of a representative of each of the nine standing IMS committees, confirmed by the IMS Board of Directors, and the IMS President-Elect as committee chair. Initial appointments to the new Leadership Development Committee will be confirmed at the December Board of Directors meeting. Because transitioning from the Nominating Committee to the Leadership Development Committee will require amending the IMS Bylaws, the Board of Directors voted in September to recommend these bylaws amendments at a special Policy Forum meeting, which will be held in conjunction with the December board meeting to ensure the new committee is seated in time to help slate candidates for the 2022 IMS leadership elections.
Initial 2022 Legislative Priorities
At their September 17 meeting, the IMS Board of Directors voted to approve recommendations from the Committee on Legislation for our initial 2022 Legislative Agenda. These priorities are as follows:
Medical Liability Reform
Combatting Vaccine Hesitancy
Expanding Physician Workforce
Protecting Safe Medical Care
Reducing Administrative Burden
Read the full Initial 2022 Legislative Priorities
These priorities represent the top focus areas for the organization as we prepare for the next legislative session, however, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Each session, IMS engages on hundreds of pieces of legislation to ensure the voice of Iowa physicians is a part of the policy discussions that impact medical practice in our state.
IMS Legislative Planning
Early each fall, the IMS Committee on Legislation meets to establish recommendation to the Board of Directors for the organization’s Legislative Agenda for the coming year. Ideas for these priorities come from a host of source. A member might submit a legislative request through the Policy Forum process, staff flag trends in issues that they hear from member contacts throughout the year, and partner organizations regularly contact IMS to request that we partner to work on a legislative idea.
Regardless of its source, an idea for legislative action follows the same path. Staff review the issues and work to identify potential legislative and non-legislative solutions, including legislation that has been proposed in other states to address the problem. This information is then shared with the IMS Committee on Legislation – a diverse group of physicians from various specialties, practice settings, and areas of the state, as well as representatives from both medical schools. This group finalizes the recommended priorities to the IMS Board of Directors for approval at their September meeting.
Once approved, these initial priorities are shared with the membership, the impacted IMS standing committees that meet throughout the fall, and other key IMS partners for feedback and additional insights. This input is brought back to the Committee on Legislation when it reconvenes in late fall to determine if any refinements or additions should be made to the IMS Legislative Agenda. If adjustments or additional priorities are recommended, these are approved by the IMS Board of Directors at its December meeting.
For more information on the IMS legislative priority development process, to share your thoughts on the initial 2022 Legislative Agenda, or to get more involved in this work, please contact Dennis Tibben with the IMS center for Physician Advocacy.
Through a contract with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), IMS has worked over the past year to lead a multi-disciplinary workforce project team that included the Iowa Hospital Association, the Iowa Pharmacy Association, and the Iowa Primary Care Association. This group has collaborated to establish a comprehensive statewide strategy to address the workforce barriers in Iowa. This initiative brought together healthcare leaders and stakeholders from the business, payer, and educational communities. It built upon the work initiated in 2018 with the formation of the IMS Physician Workforce Committee and the fall 2019 Physician Workforce Stakeholder Meeting that included many of these same stakeholder groups meeting for the first time across industries for a frank and comprehensive discussion about our state’s provider workforce needs at all levels.
Over the past year, the project team has conducted a series of townhall-style focus groups and surveys to identify needs, barriers, and opportunities, which helped to inform a stakeholder task force that jointly crafted the Iowa Rural Healthcare Workforce Strategic Action Plan – Iowa’s first-ever comprehensive, statewide provider workforce strategic plan. This report has been submitted to IDPH and IMS has been tapped to lead year two of this work, which now pivots to implementation of the recommendations included in the plan.
This week’s full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine marks another milestone in the fight to end the pandemic, but nearly half of all Iowans remain unvaccinated and many remain deeply skeptical of the vaccines. In the face of this persistent vaccine hesitancy and confusion over the evolving public health guidance regarding COVID-19, more and more patients are looking for a trusted, local authority for information. Iowa physicians are well-versed in breaking down complex medical conditions and helping their patients make the best care decisions for their individual circumstances, but how do we reach those who are deeply skeptical of the safety, efficacy, or even the need for a COVID-19 vaccine? How do you explain the relatively new Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) process or know which authoritative source to seek out when there is often conflicting guidance from state, federal, and international sources? IMS is here to help.
IMS has launched a new vaccine confidence initiative aimed at better equipping Iowa physicians to be the trusted local messengers to help their communities navigate the questions and skepticism around the COVID-19 vaccines. This new project is being built in conjunction with state and federal public health experts to ensure that every Iowa physician has the tools necessary to best advise their patients on COVID-19 vaccinations. These resources will include:
In addition to these more traditional resources, IMS will be standing up one of the country’s first Vaccine ECHO Projects – a hub and spoke model of virtual grand rounds that will regularly connect physicians from across the state to share best practices and what’s working in their local communities. First established nearly twenty years ago by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Project ECHO utilizes technology to connect providers with subject matter experts and each other in a virtual “community of practice” to learn from each other and foster greater professional collaboration. Based upon New Mexico’s success in the treatment of hepatitis C, the ECHO model has been expanded and replicated for the treatment and management of a host of medical conditions. Now, IMS is leading the way in utilizing this innovative model to better equip Iowa physicians to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.
IMS has hired a dedicated project manager with a background in public health and clinical care delivery to help lead this work. In the coming weeks and months, we will begin rolling out additional patient and provider resources, including live and on-demand trainings on skills such as motivational interviewing. The first of these resources – a quick guide on talking with patients about COVID-19, as well as a patient guide to understanding the COVID-19 vaccines and the EUA process – have been posted to the IMS Patient Resource Page. For more information on this project, please contact Kady Reese with IMS.
August 19, 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, the impending start of the 2021-2022 school year necessitates continued COVID-conscious planning by parents and students.
Over the summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued updated guidance on face mask usage, including the recommendation for universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
This guidance for universal indoor masking regardless of vaccination status was made in response to evolving understanding of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The Delta variant is significantly more infectious than previous strains of the virus, as contagious as the chicken pox. Delta may also carry with it greater risk for serious illness and potential hospitalization. The increased risk of infection, coupled with the current absence of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 years of age, warrants a return to more stringent COVID precautions.
As we await authorization for vaccination for individuals under age 12, masking by all individuals in all public indoor spaces, including school-based settings, is our best defense to protect our children against COVID-19 and emerging variants.
Vaccinated Individuals, Adults and Students Age 12+
While currently available COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated strong effectiveness in preventing severe illness and hospitalization, we are learning more about the strength of defense against mild and non-symptomatic infection and transmission. Based on the information available and to best protect those who are currently unable to receive vaccination, vaccinated individuals should resume masking in all indoor public spaces, including school and child care settings.
Unvaccinated Individuals, Adults and Students under Age 12
Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines approved to protect children under the age of 12. While many infections among children may have been asymptomatic or have resulted in less severe illness with previous COVID variants, the Delta variant may potentially carry a higher risk of symptomatic infection and potential severe illness.
Until there is a vaccine available for all age groups, continued masking is critical to protect children under age 12 and vulnerable individuals who are otherwise unable to receive vaccination. Any unvaccinated person over the age of 2 should wear a mask in all indoor settings outside of your own home, including school and child care settings.
Persons with Previous COVID Infection
While prior COVID-19 infection does provide a level of natural immunity against COVID, current studies indicate this immunity is shorter-lived than immunity from vaccination. Vaccination among those who have also previously had COVID-19 strengthens and prolongs any existing immunity. Vaccination is appropriate and encouraged for persons who have had COVID-19. As with vaccinated individuals, wearing of face masks is the best practice to both protect yourself and those around you.
As we continue to navigate this pandemic and prepare for approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children under the age of 12, it is understandable that parents and families have questions. Iowa’s physician community stands ready to help you make sense of it all. If you or a family member have not yet received your vaccination, speak with your family’s care provider about your individual health circumstances, the COVID-19 vaccines, and how best to keep your family safe.
In recent weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) have issued updated guidance on face mask usage. In recent days, the Iowa Legislature has enacted a new statutory ban on local municipalities and school districts enacting their own mask usage mandates.
These rapidly changing guidelines, coupled with the fatigue of a global pandemic now entering its fifteenth month, have left many Iowans understandably confused and frustrated about how best to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. Iowa’s physician community understands your confusion and frustration, and stands ready to help you make sense of it all.
It is important to remember that while the local mandates are no longer in place, this new law does not prohibit individual mask use and still allows for private businesses to make their own decisions. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, masking in public settings, including schools, is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and your family until the majority of Iowans are vaccinated.
Fully Vaccinated Individuals
Protecting you and your family starts with getting vaccinated as soon as possible, if you are eligible and able. Vaccine supply is now plentiful, widely available across the state, and approved down to age 12. Once you are fully vaccinated, the CDC and IDPH advise that a mask is no longer necessary in most settings to help protect you from COVID-19. Of note, in healthcare settings, masks are still recommended.
Full protection from COVID-19 occurs approximately two weeks following the completion of your vaccination series. If you have received the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, this means a two-dose series. Between these two doses, you are not yet fully protected. You should continue to wear a mask in public settings. Similarly for the two weeks after receiving these or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, you should continue to wear a mask in public settings.
On May 10th, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in 12-15 year-olds. Currently, there are no COVID-19 vaccines approved to protect children under the age of 12. While infections among most children are less severe, some have seen severe complications. Children with even a mild infection are still able to transmit the disease to more vulnerable populations. We are also still learning about the long-term side effects of even mild infection. Until vaccines are approved for them, children ages 2-11 should wear a mask in public indoor spaces to protect themselves and those around them. The CDC continues to recommend children wear masks in school unless fully protected by vaccination- two weeks after their second dose is received.
A return to a more normal daily routine is on the horizon. For many of us who are now fully vaccinated, this return has already begun to occur. Adapting to the final phases of the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful and confusing. As we move together toward a more normal tomorrow, we must exercise grace and understanding for the individual, small business, or family who is navigating mask usage in the manner that makes sense for their unique circumstances. Continue to look to your local physician as a trusted source to help make sense of evolving public health guidance, and encourage your friends and neighbors to join you in becoming vaccinated.
Together, we will emerge stronger from this pandemic.
It has been a long year as our state and our nation has worked to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our healthcare community has faced dangerous supply shortages, worked long hours, and continuously adapted to ensure that Iowans have access to safe, quality care. Nearly 300,000 Iowans have become sick and sadly, more than 5,000 Iowans have lost their lives to this disease.
Fortunately, hope is on the horizon. While the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has not been as smooth or as quick as any of us would have liked, more than 300,000 Iowans have now received at least one dose of the vaccine and a third COVID-19 vaccine is now under consideration for federal authorization. At the same time, our state’s positivity rate has dropped substantially since its peak in November and the number of Iowans hospitalized with the disease is also on the decline.
These achievements should be celebrated, but it is also absolutely critical that Iowans not let their guard down now, even with the recent lifting of COVID-19-related public health state orders. It is likely going to be several months before COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and new, more highly infectious variants of the disease have begun to be detected in our state. The great achievements our state has made in the fight against the pandemic are a direct result of greater observance of the basic COVID-19 safety measures:
1. Wear a well-fitting facemask over your mouth and nose whenever you are in public, or in close contact with anyone outside your immediate household.
2. Avoid large gatherings and maintain at least six feet of social distance with those outside your immediate household.
3. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and for at least twenty seconds especially when you are in public or have just blown your nose, coughed, or sneezed. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol.
4. Monitor your daily health and be alert to COVID-19 symptoms including a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. If you experience symptoms, stay home and call your doctor immediately.
We must all continue to do the right thing and work together to keep ourselves and our communities safe. Failing to do so will result in another deadly spike in infections, which will further divert resources from rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines. Now is the time to double-down on the Iowan commitment to caring for our neighbors and working together to help end this pandemic.
The IMS Board of Directors has voted to implement a series of reforms to strengthen the Policy Forum model for organizational policy development. The reforms, contained in the Vista-Wayne Report, were discussed and approved at the recent IMS September Board meeting. They include the following measures intended to further increase member engagement opportunities:
This starts with the creation of an IMS members-only Facebook group for greater peer-to-peer interactions throughout the year under the guidance of a handful of member moderators who will be tasked with helping to identify emerging trends and encouraging engaged members to bring their ideas to the Policy Forum process.
Staff have also been tasked with formulating a model for allowing for anonymous PRS submissions, which will help to facilitate member deliberations on sensitive subjects while protecting members from potential negative repercussions from outside forces for simply voicing their thoughts among their peers.
Staff will be convening stakeholder discussions to develop clearer models to implement these final two reforms, with the IMS Board of Directors further deliberating both measures at its December meeting. Implementation of the other reforms is already underway with the intention of having all reforms ready in time for Policy Forum 21-1 next April. For more information about these reforms, please view the Vista-Wayne Report or contact Dennis Tibben with the IMS Center for Physician Advocacy.
On Monday July 27, IMS submitted a joint letter to Governor Reynolds calling for an immediate, statewide public face mask order for all Iowans over two years of age. IMS was joined in this letter by leadership from 14 healthcare organizations representing more than 12,000 physicians, providers, and public health professions from across the state. Previously, the IMS Board of Directors met in an emergency meeting to discuss the need for such an order and voted unanimously to support IMS moving forward in leading Iowa’s healthcare community in this call for statewide action.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Governor Reynolds:
The Iowa Medical Society and the coalition of healthcare organizations listed in this letter represent the unified voice of the more than 12,000 physicians, clinicians, providers, pharmacists, health care facilities, public health professionals, and providers-in-training across the state of Iowa. In these roles, we have a professional and ethical duty to protect the safety and well-being of our patients and our fellow Iowans. It is through this lens that we view the current challenges facing our state and our nation. We have been proud to work with your office and the Iowa Department of Public Health over the last several months as part of the evolving response to address the impact of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes (COVID-19). In that spirit of partnership, we write today to ask you to immediately move forward with the next critical step in our state’s response to this pandemic – a statewide public mask order for all Iowans over the age of two.
We had all hoped that our ongoing efforts to flatten the curve and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 would find our state in a position of community containment by this point in the year. That is, unfortunately, not the case. In the past week alone, we have seen the number of Iowans with active COVID-19 infections rise to 6,565 – a 64% increase from the 3,993 reported cases on June 20 when we were all optimistic that we were starting to see the downward trend stabilize. As new numbers of daily positive tests continue to be reported by the hundreds, and results from tests administered over the weekend are released, the number of infected Iowans is positioned to climb steadily closer to the previous peak active infection figure of 7,381 that was reported on May 6.
Through the course of this pandemic, we have seen the prevalence of infections shift away from older Iowans and those with pre-existing conditions, to the greatest number of infections now occurring among our younger, healthier populations. More than 48% of infections are currently among adults aged 18-40 and less than 23% of those testing positive report a pre-existing condition. It is also worth noting that it is not simply a case that these are infections among young people with mild symptoms. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to rise. More than 32% of those hospitalized are requiring intensive care treatment and to date, 829 Iowans have lost their lives.
At the same time, vulnerable populations continue to also be impacted in large numbers by this pandemic. Older Iowans, particularly those in a nursing facilities and other congregate living settings, continue to see steady infection rates in new facilities across the state. The rising rates of infection in many counties have kept long term care providers from easing COVID-19 restrictions, and allowing further access for family and friends to their loved ones. With over 441 deaths occurring in long term care settings in Iowa, taking aggressive steps to mitigate infection rates through statewide public mask order could directly impact the lives of vulnerable, older Iowans.
As you know, this pandemic is not simply impacting Iowa’s urban, more densely-populated communities. Iowa’s rural communities are facing similar rates of infection, with some counties’ daily positive rates exceeding both the statewide average and the infection rates of the most heavily-hit urban counties. The risks of these dramatically increasing infection rates overwhelming response efforts in rural communities is further amplified as rural providers operate with significantly fewer resources to manage acute illness than their urban counterparts.
The fight against COVID-19 has proven arduous and constant. While there is much we are still learning about this virus, there is much we do know and knowledge we do have about effective ways to fight this type of illness. We know the best way to fight virus spread is to prevent it. Guidance from public health experts and numerous research studies, including a recent University of Iowa College of Public Health study, are clear: consistent, widespread use of cloth masks in public settings will dramatically slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
The Iowa Medical Society and this coalition of healthcare organizations strongly support use of all available policy mechanisms, including a statewide order, to ensure Iowans more widely adopt public use of masks for the duration of the pandemic. As data-driven organizations, we are confident in the University of Iowa research that shows that mandating face mask use in public is associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate and an estimated 250,000-450,000 COVID-19 cases potentially avoided across the 15 states that had such mandates in place at the time of the study. Thirty states, under the leadership of both Democratic and Republican governors, have now enacted statewide protocols mandating masks in public places and areas in which social distancing cannot be guaranteed. It is imperative that Iowa join their ranks.
As you have noted many times, we each have a role to play in our state and our nation’s response to COVID-19. You have consistently called upon Iowans to do their part and remain vigilant in exercising the precautions necessary to slow the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, voluntary efforts have proven to not be enough. We have seen infection rates continue to climb. We have seen businesses forced to re-close due to positive infections among their staff. In addition, healthcare facilities and community businesses who have attempted to establish their own masking policies have faced backlash and enforcement challenges in the absence of a statewide policy.
It is now apparent that stronger measures are necessary to better protect our fellow Iowans. Requiring public use of cloth masks represents an immediate opportunity to drastically reduce the spread of COVID- 19 in our state. A statewide order, appropriately structured to account for young children and other special health considerations, further enhances the state’s efforts to protect patient safety and safeguards our initial progress toward economy recovery.
The shutdowns of large swaths of Iowa’s economy, schools, and many non-urgent medical procedures earlier this year inconvenienced nearly every Iowan and rendered a significant blow to countless Iowa businesses, including many medical practices. While these measures were necessary at the time to slow the spread of the virus and preserve critical resources for front-line COVID-19 response efforts, we do not want to go backwards on our state’s recovery efforts. A statewide mask order is the surest way to ensure that our schools, businesses, and health care facilities are able to reopen and stay open, and that our medical practices are able to continue to offer a full array of care for Iowa patients.
Iowa’s healthcare community remains committed to doing all that we can to help respond to the ongoing pandemic. The time has come that mandatory public mask use must be a part of those efforts. We thank you for your ongoing leadership during this difficult chapter in our state’s history and look forward to continuing to partner with you and your administration in responding to the challenges of COVID-19.
Brian Privett, MD, President, Iowa Medical Society
James Bell, MD, President, Iowa Academy of Family Physicians
Daniel Wright, DO, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, Iowa Chapter
Stacey Marlow, MD, President, American College of Emergency Physicians, Iowa Chapter
Melinda Seering, MD, President, Iowa Society of Anesthesiologists
Tim Daley, MD, President, Iowa Academy of Ophthalmology
Kevin Locke, MD, President, Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners
Sakeer Hussain, MD, President, Iowa Oncology Society
Anne Gentil-Archer, ARNP, President, Iowa Nurse Practitioner Society
Stacy Crill, ARNP, President, Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioners
Natalie Weber, PA, President, Iowa Physician Assistants Society
Julie Thorson, Board Chair, Leading Age Iowa
Ron Kemp, Board Chair, Iowa Primary Care Association
Connie Connolly, RPh, President, Iowa Pharmacy Association
Lina Tucker Reinders, MPH, Executive Director, Iowa Public Health Association
The Iowa Medical Society is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 515 E Locust St. Ste. 400 50309