STFM Is My Most Precious Membership

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Evelyn Figueroa, MD

I have learned so much from its people, meetings, collaboratives, group projects, and online resources. STFM’s mission is my professional mission – to advance the health of our patients through education. STFM was the first place where I found mentors that looked and sounded like me. It has created the space for me to find and develop my professional identity and learn so much more beyond the physical medicine promoted in medical school. My involvement in STFM has provided repeated opportunities to learn and expand my reach in health care education.

Like many members, STFM is my happy place, a place where I can recharge and stretch. After each spring meeting I normally return to Chicago with a list filled with new ideas to build into my university work. Its work on health equity and social responsibility inspired me to develop curricula and clinical programs aimed at addressing health conditions related to food insecurity, homelessness, and drug use. What is so special about STFM is that it gave me the tools to advocate and integrate concepts related to bias in healthcare such as racism, sexism, heterosexism, and privilege into my everyday teaching and patient care. Family medicine thought leaders like Camara Phyllis Jones and Warren Ferguson have given me the courage to disrupt and push for more humanistic and equitable care.

Between meetings STFM maintains its connection and I feel its support. My distance peer mentors Ed Figueroa (my “brother from another mother”), Judy Washington, and Jo Brown Speights taught me about how to provide quality mentoring to underrepresented minority physicians. On the Board of Directors, we explored what responsibility STFM as an organization has in providing social determinants of health training in substantial and sustainable ways. How validating it has been to feel the support of our entire organization in issues that matter to the community I serve so strongly!

So now here I am, a family physician activist in academic medicine pivoting my work towards health equity training in medical education. In 2017, with my incredibly supportive partner Alex Wu and our children, we started the Figueroa Wu Family Foundation. Our main project is the UI Health Pilsen Food Pantry, a program that has distributed more than 300,000 pounds of healthy food and household items to nearly 10,000 visitors since opening in January 2018. This open-access pantry operates 20 hours a week and is staffed by community, student, and resident volunteers. Our pantry teaches about bias, inequity, and food justice while providing an important service to the community. The pantry also serves as a learning laboratory to help students preserve their humanism while keeping patients at the center. With the help of medical students, we are developing a medical legal partnership to further advocate for our patients. Chicago is a place of excess where there is enough for everyone. I am trying to engage with the UIC community in order to help the overlooked and marginalized be heard and recognized.

I am not sure I would have found my professional voice without STFM. I appreciate all that STFM keeps teaching me about the power of family medicine. I want to be the physician my patients deserve and STFM is an integral part of my motivation and inspiration.

I Share This Story Because it Has Stayed With Me For Some Time

Shannon Pittman Moore, MD

Shannon Pittman Moore, MD

I am, at heart, a genuine country girl.

I grew up making mud pies, riding on the back of trucks, and swimming in the local creek. Despite the horrific racial past that will forever scar the fabric of our state, Mississippi has always been, and I believe will always be, my home.

From Pike County I was transplanted to the rich soil of Tougaloo College. There under the hanging moss, I came to appreciate, even more, the heritage and history of African Americans. Though I have clearly always been aware that I am indeed a black woman and though never disillusion that this still means something in the South, I am blessed that to have been covered by the debt paid by those who walked this road long before me. I have never been called out of my name, forced to move to the back, nor told that I don’t belong. Never beaten, refused or chained.

I have, however, tasted the subversive bitterness of unconscious bias and seen the effects of the subtle erosion caused by institutionalized racism.

Of all the stories and experiences that flood my mind of my medical education and training, I still remember the first patient who called me “Ms” and not “Dr.” I remember the patient who needed to begin our visit declaring that she, in fact, liked colored people and had colored friends. I recall being the resident on a team with my attending and three students who were all white men and walking into a patient’s room that I had been actually rounding on daily, to have her respond with awe as the team walked in that morning and express her excitement to have 1, 2, 3, 4 doctors. She started counting past me.

Years later, I still see that room and more than the patient, I see my attending not correcting the statement. Sadder still is my shame that neither did I. But I also remember being welcomed to sit with the family of this amazing lady who I had cared for since I started residency. No one in the church looked like me and yet everyone shared my same love for her. I remember a patient with elevated troponins refusing her heart cath until she could talk to her doctor that she trusted. I have had so many incredible relationships with wonderful patients, none of which stifled by differences.

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Getting the Most Out of Your Next Professional Meeting

By Joanna Drowos DO, MPH, MBA and Mandi Sehgal MD

Recently a large group of faculty from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, including physicians from various specialties and other health professions educators, attended the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) Conference on Medical Student Education, in Jacksonville, Florida. For us as family physicians, being able to engage our colleagues, both inside and outside of our specialty, was a great way to showcase STFM, develop new collaborations, and advance in our careers.

Being at this meeting together, away from our home institution, provided opportunities to increase rapport and morale amongst our group. Given that so many of us attended and presented our work, our college took notice and pride.

We present here lessons learned and our suggestions on how to take advantage of the opportunity to attend, present, and/or network at professional meetings. We will use our experience at STFM as an example.

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