Goodbye 50th Anniversary—Hello to the Next 50 Years


Wilson Stephen_2017 blog

STFM President Stephen Wilson, MD, MPH

Well, it’s over. From the 105 family medicine educators who signed on at the first STFM meeting in 1967 to the more than 1,850 who attended our Annual Spring Conference in 2017, STFM’s year of celebrating our 50th Anniversary is at an end. From blog posts and other social media activities to written pieces in Family Medicine and other journals, to in-person, live celebrations at our conferences, it has been a year for recollection and reflection. We closed the time capsule at the Conference on Practice Improvement in Louisville, KY.

All too often the present is used to inform the past, and time is spent reinterpreting, representing, and even reforming the past through the lens of the current. This was never the intention of learning from history. The past is best used to better understand the present in order to inform the future. STFM is poised to do just that as we press forward into the unknown: the future.

The Past and the Present
STFM’s tagline is “transforming health care through education.” Academic family medicine has made an impact on medical education and medical practice for the better. Two prominent examples are The Five Microskills and Evidence Based Medicine (EBM).

One of the single most impactful educational articles ever written was “A Five-Step Microskills Model of Clinical Teaching” by Neher, Gordon, Meyer, and Stevens in 1992.1 It has been used, referenced, and taught by many medical educators, and has even been repackaged by others as the “One-Minute Preceptor.”

The interprofessional, collaborative work of David Slawson, MD and Allen Shaughnessy, PharmD in the arena of EBM, with their emphasis on prioritizing findings relevant to patients and on outcomes that matter (mortality, morbidity, quality of life, and cost) have immeasurably changed how family doctors categorize data, think, write, research, and practice. Across family medicine and medicine in general the principles established by these educators have enhanced the quality of teaching and patient care.

The Present and the Future
Looking to the future as a community of teachers and scholars working to advance family medicine, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine will continue to work to positively transform health care through education and be the indispensable academic home for medical educators. We will continue proven practices while developing new tools for, and new approaches to medical education in the evolving health care landscape.

We will continue to pursue patient-centered, learner-centered education. We will be resolute in pursing patient-centered, population-beneficial care. We will ensure that all three legs of the EBM stool—best available evidence, clinical expertise, and patient values—are valued in the medical decision-making process.

We envision a time of accelerated growth and impact of family medicine in which STFM remains instrumental and becomes more influential in medical education. We envision:

  • Growth in size and impact through progressive medical education research, assessment, investigation, and appraisal that advances our mission and informs our ability to provide the fundamental skills for excelling in education;
  • Refining conferences, programs, and activities to meet the evolving needs of interprofessional medical student and residency educators, leadership development, and medical practice;
  • Every US medical school having graduates who match into family medicine residencies;
  • Secure and robust funding for primary care research, with outcomes that enhance medical education and lead to health care innovation;
  • Every American having secure health insurance for basic, urgent, and emergent needs;
  • Family medicine being established as the provider of first-contact, continuous, com­prehensive, coordinated, culturally aware care in a family and community context; and
  • Advancing medical education and patient care toward better outcomes (effectiveness), better value (efficiency), better access and care (equity), and better experience for patients and physicians (attractiveness).2

The future looks like bright and busy as we continue working to bring about an adequate and effective primary care workforce capable of providing excellent health care to all Americans in a way that addresses social determinants of health in order to bring about health equity.


  1. Neher JO, Gordon KC, Meyer B, Stevens N. A five-step “microskills” model of clinical teaching. J Am Board Fam Pract. 1992;5(4):419-424.
  2. Goodell M, Wilson SA. STFM – 50 Years of working to transform health care through education. Fam Med. 2017;49(4):265-267.

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