Throwing Spaghetti, Working in the Presence of Giants, and Making Connections


Throwing Spaghetti to Find a Leadership Opportunity


LeeAnne Denny, MD

Every single faculty member with whom I work is amazing. They are very active on a national level and are leaders in family medicine advocacy, physician wellbeing, evidence-based medicine education, faculty development, collaborative practice, and service learning.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t figure out how they managed to sit on national committees and boards. So I asked my program director about it. He said you find an opportunity in which you are interested and then you apply.  He said, “throw lots of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.” (I’m so glad this is just a colorful metaphor and not an actual practice at our institution or the walls would be a vile mess given the ambition and abilities of our physicians.)

Fortuitously, shortly after having my talk with my program director, I received an email informing me that STFM was looking for people to serve on a task force to help plan for the 50th anniversary celebration. As my core values are connection, fun, and growth, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity.

So I wrenched my arm back and hurled my spaghetti as hard as I could. And it stuck right to the wall. I was so grateful when I found out that I had been accepted to join the task force, I told my program director about it right away.

Working in the Presence of Giants

Never having served on a national task force, I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I wanted to facilitate fun and connection. In sitting down to the huge task of planning this yearlong celebration, I came to learn that I was in the presence of giants. As the task force debated which events of the past were critical to honor, I learned the stories from our Society, and from these keepers of the past, I learned about those who have been blazing the trail upon which we now trod. The love for this Society held by the members of this task force and by those who selflessly volunteered their expertise and time to share their stories and wisdom inspired curiosity in me. I wanted to learn more about STFM’s only trip to Greece and about the dancing parties that went well into the night in the 1970s.

For the Connections We Make

I had the privilege of announcing the STFM anniversary celebration events at the Annual Spring Conference networking luncheon, a story I’d love to tell you if you ask me at next year’s conference. This forced me to reflect on what I knew about STFM and what I most valued about STFM.

In reflecting on the videos on the 50th Anniversary Member Video Wall, my own experience of STFM, the glimpses into the past I’d been afforded, and what I’d learned, I realized that while we may come to STFM for many reasons (to present data, share teaching strategies, hone our teaching skills, serve at a national level) we come to love STFM for the connections we make. Whether we meet our friends at STFM, at work, or on the beaches of Costa Rica, we cherish the opportunity to reconnect at STFM conferences and to support one another and be inspired by one another. 

Watching the dancing at this year’s Annual Spring Conference go into the night, I felt intimately and newly entwined into the fabric of STFM’s history.  It was an honor to serve on the STFM 50th Anniversary Celebration Task Force.

One response to “Throwing Spaghetti, Working in the Presence of Giants, and Making Connections

  1. LeeAnne – I think you are one of the giants now – this is such a touching tribute to all of those who so highly value STFM as their professional home!

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