Each year, the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians solicits nominees for the John S. Derryberry M.D. Distinguished Service Award which is presented to an individual, or individuals, members or non-members, whom the Tennessee AFP feels has demonstrated exemplary leadership and character, along with outstanding and distinguished service to the family physicians in Tennessee.  The award is named in honor of the late John S. Derryberry, M.D., Shelbyville, who served the Tennessee and American Academy of Family Physicians with honor and distinction from 1964 until his passing in 1998.

However, it would be an impossible task to pick just one person to honor, member or non-member, during this last year with the stark reality of COVID-19.  EVERYONE has been impacted by this pandemic. 

Whether enduring extra hours of work and time away from family or being frustrated by combating misinformation and being ridiculed for promoting the best evidence for preventing and treating COVID or striving to devise the best practices for patient flow and safety as the phases waxed and waned, all Tennessee family physicians have been tested.  Many have fallen ill with the virus, some continue to battle the long-term health issues of having acquired COVID-19, and others have made the ultimate sacrifice to medical practice by losing their lives to this disease as they tried to take care of their patients.  Many of you protected your loved ones by isolating yourselves.  Despite precautions, some watched loved ones suffer and even die.  You may have faced the loss of numerous patients, friends, and neighbors, while still trying to be fully engaged with everyone who sought your care and putting your own grieving and self-care on hold. 

You have embraced new technology with virtual patient visits, portals, and on-line meetings.  You have stood in the rain and the cold to offer drive-through vaccination clinics.  You have foregone handshakes and hugs and group events in order to protect yourselves and others and to model safe practices. You have masked and gloved and gowned when PPE was available, and you have improvised when it wasn’t.  You have scrubbed and sanitized until your skin became raw.  Without being able to enjoy even the basic comforts at times, you have fought against burnout and faced each day with amazing strength and courage.  When others have taken out their pandemic-inspired frustrations on you, you have maintained your professionalism and offered them kindness and compassion.

You deserve recognition.  Therefore, the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians proudly honors each and every one of you for your dedication, service, and sacrifice during this past year by designating all our members as the honorary recipients of the 2021 John S. Derryberry M.D. Distinguished Service Award.