My Dream: Closing the Nation’s Achievement Gap Through Teaching Family Medicine

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Whitney LeFevre, MD

During most of my adult life, I’ve felt called to help close the achievement gap that exists in our country. So I deferred medical school to teach middle school math and science in inner city Baltimore with Teach For America. During my 2 years of teaching, I found that while I loved my students and I loved teaching them algebra and life sciences, I felt called back into the field of medicine. I saw that the best way for me to close the achievement gap was to return to medicine to find ways to address the many social determinants of health that kept my students from success.

In medical school, I was the education director for the MedZou Student-Run Free Clinic. The clinic both teaches medical students the joys of primary care and provides health care to the uninsured. My time at MedZou not only inspired me to become a family physician but also gave me the opportunity to create new programs to teach medical students while providing quality care to those in need. It’s at this intersection—the intersection of helping those in need while also stimulating medical students to be future family doctors for the underserved—where I truly feel I am able to fulfill my calling to close the achievement gap in our country.

In residency, I worked in an urban underserved environment with a predominantly Spanish-speaking population. Our patients had many social issues, including homelessness, addiction, food instability—the list goes on. In a place of great need like Lawrence, MA, I was motivated by how much family medicine was valued there. My patients deserved doctors who are full-spectrum trained and committed to quality, access, and patient-centeredness. And that’s what they got.

I continue to be inspired by my teachers in residency as they model not only how to be a doctor in this environment, but also how to encourage others to choose this path. As a former chief resident and someone who completed an area of concentration in academics, I learned how to be an academic in a community setting, which has prepared me to teach family medicine anywhere. This August, I will start my first job as a faculty member at John Peter Smith Family Medicine Residency.

I hope to continue to be faculty for my entire career, where I can inspire future family medicine doctors to do the work that’s needed for those who need it the most. I hope that those future family doctors will address the social determinants of health that kept my students—and other students across the nation—from success.

One response to “My Dream: Closing the Nation’s Achievement Gap Through Teaching Family Medicine

  1. Thanks Whitney! You were definitely an inspiration to me and are part of the reason I choose Lawrence for residency!

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