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Newsletter/April 2015

Expanding and Strengthening our Network

As part of Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP)’s 10th anniversary celebrations, we are proud to share with you the re-launch of our Reproductive Health Access Network! RHAP first launched the Network in 2007 as the Family Medicine Reproductive Health Network, a group of 125 family clinicians dedicated to expanding access to abortion care in family medicine. Network members came together regularly to offer each other training, peer-to-peer support, and advocated integrating reproductive health care within family medicine. By 2014, Network membership had grown to over 700 members from 35 states – opening up exciting opportunities for expansion!


Here are just a few of the changes we’ve made in this new phase of the Network:

  1. Widening our scope: In order to reflect the current reproductive health care landscape, we have broadened our scope of work to include contraceptive and miscarriage care as well as abortion care. We are also expanding our membership beyond family physicians. We now welcome all pro-choice primary care clinicians  including Advanced Practice Clinicians  to bring their unique perspectives to the Network. To reflect these changes, we’ve renamed and rebranded the Network to be more inclusive of our diverse membership.
  2. Expanding and strengthening local networks: The Network has been the most effective when clinicians have come together regionally. These supportive spaces have allowed for information sharing, discussing and addressing local barriers to care, and engaging in advocacy at the community and statewide levels. We have longstanding regional Network “Clusters” in Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York City. In December 2014, several Philadelphia-area Network members met for the first time, becoming the first Cluster to develop under the re-launch  with many more to come! We’re also increasing the use of virtual communities, such as the AAFP Reproductive Health Member Interest Group, to connect with clinicians who do not currently live near an existing Network Cluster.
  3. Expanding training opportunities and access to resources: The Network connects providers to clinical training resources, such as webinars, lectures and presentations. RHAP re-launched our website in January, with an expanded resources section for both clinicians and patients. Finally, the Reproductive Health Access Project has several fellowship, grant and training programs designed specifically for primary care clinicians.

Keep your eyes and ears open for more exciting news about the Reproductive Health Access Network in the future!


Celebrating Ten Years

In March of 2005 a group of generous friends hosted a fundraiser for the Reproductive Health Access Project in Pasadena, California. In that one night we raised almost $50,000! Those gifts allowed us to launch RHAP and establish ourselves as a national nonprofit dedicated to integrating reproductive health into primary care.

Last month, almost ten years later to the day, RHAP returned to Pasadena to celebrate our ten-year anniversary with our supporters in California. On March 12th Hannah and Russ Kully, Susan Regas, and Bo Rietwerts co-hosted a reception for RHAP at the Regas-Rietwerts home. Clinicians who are part of our Reproductive Health Access Network attended along with several founding donors from the 2005 event. Our medical director, Dr. Linda Prine, and our former Women’s Health Advocate, Alexandra Regas, kicked off the night with a demonstration of RHAP’s patient-centered approach to pregnancy options counseling. The demonstration was followed by a lively Q&A with guests about RHAP’s growth over the past 10 years and our plans for the future.

It was incredibly inspiring to be in a room with so many supporters who have been a part of RHAP from the beginning. Throughout this year we will be hosting other events across the country to celebrate our 10-year anniversary and sharing stories of our growth on our website, blog, and on social media. Make sure to save the date for our September 26, 2015 anniversary party in New York City!


Apply Now for the Miscarriage Care Initiative

MCIApplications are now being accepted for our 2015-2016 Miscarriage Care Initiative. The Miscarriage Care Initiative expands access to evidence-based, patient-centered miscarriage care in primary care settings. Grantees will receive intensive support from RHAP to integrate and expand miscarriage treatment in their primary practice. Grantees become a part of a learning collaborative and receive clinical training, supplies and equipment, patient education materials, and technical assistance to address clinical and administrative issues. Grantees who are clinical faculty also receive support to integrate miscarriage management into their residency education program.

The Miscarriage Care Initiative is open to family physicians in the United States. We will strive to select a diverse cohort of grantees – both in terms of practice setting (community health centers, private practices, academic practices, etc.) and geographic location (regionally and urban vs. rural). Family physicians who are faculty in residency training programs or who work with advance practice clinicians interested in providing miscarriage care are especially encouraged to apply.

Please visit our website for a full description of the program and instructions for how to apply. Applications will be accepted from April 1st to May 15th. We will be reviewing applications as they are received, so we encourage you to apply early. To learn more about the program check out our blog post on our 2014-2015 grantees.

If you have any questions about the Miscarriage Care Initiative please reach out to Rosann Mariappuram at


Action Required: Family Planning Self-Assessment Module for Family Medicine

Family Physicians are invited to sign our online petition in support of a family planning Self-Assessment Module (SAM). 99% of sexually active American women will use contraception in their lifetime. As key providers of primary care to women and families across the country, family physicians need to be able to provide evidence-based, patient-centered contraceptive care.

In 2014 the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education recognized the importance of family planning as a part of family medicine by including it as a core component of family medicine residency education.

Now we need to ensure that family physicians are up-to-date on the latest in contraceptive care, as new products and devices are often emerging. The American Board of Family Medicine sets the standards and processes for family physicians to maintain their clinical certification. One of the ways family physicians can maintain their clinical certification is to successfully complete Self-Assessment Modules (SAM) on core primary care topics. SAMs cover lots of topics – but NOT contraception.

The Reproductive Health Care Member Interest Group of the American Academy of Family Physicians is working on developing a family planning/contraception SAM. A key step in getting the American Board of Family Medicine to approve a new SAM is to demonstrate that there is wide support within family medicine to have a SAM on family planning.

We’ve launched an online petition so that family physicians can voice their support for a family planning SAM.

By developing a Self-Assessment Module on family planning, the American Board of Family Medicine will be ensuring that our nation’s family physicians are maintaining their clinical knowledge in an area that touches the lives of nearly every woman and family.


Developing Physician Advocates

RHAP’s Reproductive Health and Advocacy Fellowship aims to develop clinical leaders who will promote and teach full-spectrum women’s reproductive healthcare within family medicine. One of the way they develop these skills is through regional and national advocacy. Our Fellow, Zahra Virani, MD was recently part of a group of physicians who traveled to Washington, DC as part of All Above All’s efforts to advocate against the Hyde Amendment. And Dr. Carrie Pierce (pictured left) went to Albany, New York to advocate for ensuring quality primary care in federally qualified health centers.

Dr. Pierce describes what her advocacy experience meant to her.

’What do you think, Dr. Pierce?’ was something I heard over and over throughout my meetings with legislators. I was among the least experienced advocates in my group lobbying New York legislators. I was with heads of social work departments, senior executives, and a host of others. But as the senior clinician in the room, inevitably all eyes would turn to me for a proclamation on the matters at hand.

This was not something I’d experienced before. As a family physician specializing in full-scope reproductive healthcare, I obviously have to be politically aware. There are so many policies and cultural norms that make it harder to provide my patients with the best care, the care they deserve, that I have to know what’s going on in the world around me. But my recent day in the state capitol with the Community Health Care Association of New York (CHCANYS) was my first experience speaking directly and in person with my elected representatives. I expected to take the backseat, more of an observational role, learning this process from my more experienced colleagues. But by virtue of being a clinician, someone with MD after my name, I had an instant aura of authority.

I was pleasantly surprised to find how easily I fell into this role. I was able to speak convincingly to my legislators about the importance of maintaining funding for school-based health centers, and opposing a proposed state budget with a 15% cut and a switch to a block-grant system. There was no formal training in medical school or residency to do this kind of thing. I work on my patients’ behalf every day, and I like to think I’m an advocate for them, but this was the first time I was truly advocating. I’m still shocked at the ease of the transition. I could instantly think of patient examples for how this would decrease quality (and likely increase cost) of care. While I can’t know for sure yet, I felt like these discussions were actually productive, that people were listening, that they might take my perspective into account when making governing decisions. It was that simple.

I got such energy from this work. After this introductory experience, I know I’ll be much more likely to keep advocating and agitating for my patients, either through meetings with legislators, letters to members of congress, or op-eds to medical journals.


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