50 Years of Growing Family Medicine


When I think of the 50-year history of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM), I get warm and fuzzy. It has been a glorious history and I have been fortunate to have viewed most of it.

Joseph Scherger, MD, MPH

Joseph Scherger, MD, MPH

Family Medicine From the Beginning

I committed to family medicine in 1973 as a third-year medical student at UCLA, when Tom Stern, MD, was still in Santa Monica. I joined the AAFP and the California chapter and became active, encouraging other medical students to join this emerging counter-culture specialty. I read everything I could and studied the pictures of the founders, such as Lynn Carmichael, MD,  G. Gayle Stephens, MD, and so many others. While at the University of Washington in 1977, I jumped at the chance to become the first resident on the STFM Board of Directors. I have been engaged and passionate for this organization ever since.


For the first 25 years, Ed Shahady, MD, served as my mentor and father figure, and Marian Bishop, MD, as my mother. (I teased her because she looked like my real mother.) David Swee, MD, was like a brother. Everyone who becomes active in STFM has stories like this. The people of STFM become a family. STFM’s abundant communities allow for many cultural homes and families for faculty.

Growing Academic Family Medicine

Of the many achievements of STFM, a legacy of faculty development shines brightest. From the newbies who attend the conferences in great numbers to the deans and high-level leaders in medical education, STFM, and its Foundation has continued to create stellar training and resources for their development.

The academic maturation in family medicine led by STFM has been phenomenal. I remember launching the journal, Family Medicine. In the beginning, Family Medicine was filled with essays and descriptive articles. They were interesting but not sophisticated. The same was true for most presentations at annual conferences. Now, the sophistication of both the publications and presentations is amazing to me, and I enjoy watching young and mid-career faculty present material that is, quite frankly, often over my head. STFM has become a major academic organization.

Celebrating 50 Years

The 50th anniversary of STFM will be a yearlong celebration of the past, present, and future of the organization.  There will be a wide variety of fun and stimulating opportunities for everyone. Please contribute! Share your stories! Teach others and learn from those you admire most or have yet to learn about. Everything that is wonderful about STFM will be intensified this year.  Make plans and register for as many conferences as you are able to attend.

STFM has a great history ahead if all members continue with their dedication to improving family medicine education and training the right workforce for health care in America.  There are so many exciting avenues ahead, such as intensifying better lifestyles through effective motivational counseling, recognizing and addressing the social determinants of health and creating healthier populations, and the emergence of rejuvenation biology and personalized care based on deep and practical genomic information. The past is always a prologue to the future we are able to create together. STFM will continue to be a progressive organization, moving family medicine forward. STFM is nothing more than its members and the energy and commitment they bring. Doing it as a family built on a lot of love makes it so fun and rewarding.

One response to “50 Years of Growing Family Medicine

  1. Maureen Grissom

    STFM is the “family” of family medicine… So true–love that!

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