The Real Deal: Serving as a STFM Student Representative

Melissa Robinson

Melissa Robinson
Student Representative

It is mid-morning, and we are on a road trip, driving to the hometown of our son’s fiancée. Well, today she is his fiancée. Tomorrow they will be married, and the car is laden with gifts, wedding favors, and of course the groom’s cake—his favorite, Italian cream cake. It is packed carefully on ice because of the European buttercream. The real deal.

And so, for the first time in many months, I am not studying for a shelf exam, or working on a rotation, or even cleaning up the cake mess in the kitchen. What I love about a road trip is how the time and movement and feeling of the open road invite reflection.

There have been many things I have loved about my third year of medical school, finished just a few days ago. One of the very best has been my year as the student representative to STFM, and I am grateful to have one more year in the position. I have learned so much and been given great opportunities.

One of the main functions of the student is to participate in the four Board of Director meetings a year. I can’t resist saying that they are great fun and allow for exciting travel, but their real value to me is in the creation of relationships with people I admire and in the education they provide. There is a great deal of reading required to prepare for these four meetings, and especially for someone new to the issues, but therein lies the value, since no course in medical school provides so current and thorough an education on the issues facing our profession. Moreover, the opportunity to learn about the unique responsibilities of a Board of Directors is a great education for anyone in the medical profession since it is the model so often used.

The student also is a member of the Education Committee, and this provides more opportunities at a hands-on level. As the liaison to students at the Conference on Medical Student Education and the STFM Annual Spring Conference, I not only got to meet some pretty fabulous colleagues but also attended sessions that afforded insight into the current state and future directions of family medicine education. As part of the subcommittee on Medical Students and the Electronic Health Record, I got to help write a policy statement that I hope will make a difference in medical student education.

There have also been unexpected opportunities. With some handholding from Mike Mendoza, MD, MPH, MS, I learned to review abstracts, and Joseph Scherger, MD, MPH, an assistant editor of Family Medicine entrusted me with my first opportunity to peer review an article. Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH, gave me one of my best assignments of medical school—to look up and read the COGME 20th report, which plainly states the urgent need to devote resources and attention to primary care. Lastly, the many teachers of family medicine whom I have met this year have bowled me over with their talent, enthusiasm, and sincerity. They are the real deal.

I am deeply grateful to STFM for the professional development and learning opportunities given to me as student representative and to the students at the AAFP National Conference for electing me. I am really grateful that my term continues for the 2013–2014 academic year, because, to be honest, it’s taken me this first year to come up to speed. I strongly urge other students to run for this position!

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