Author Archives: Jeri Hepworth, PhD

As Rosie the Riveter Says: We Can Do It—Collaborative and Facilitative Leadership

Jeri Hepworth, PhD,STFM Past President

What a fortunate path I have been on. But it is a path that more of us can take, and that is the core message of this blog post. As a behavioral scientist in family medicine for more than 30 years, I grew up in parallel with the discipline of family medicine and have been part of the community of behavioral science faculty who help family physicians know what it means to care for real people, for families, and to do so collaboratively with other health care professionals. Over time, I felt included and valued in my department, in my medical school, and in our national organizations, especially the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM). So what a thrill it was to be elected STFM president. But it was not without trepidations.

As STFM President-Elect, I attended my first meeting of CAFM and Working Party. Forgive the funny names, but they represent the Council of Academic Family Medicine organizations (STFM; ADFM, the organization of departments and chairs; AFMRD, the residency directors; and NAPCRG, the primary care researchers). The Working Party includes the CAFM organizations, plus the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Board of Family Medicine, and the AAFP Foundation. Together, the organizations work to ensure coordinated positions and grapple with vision and leadership of family medicine. These meetings represent ideal examples of Covey’s work of being both important and not urgent, of taking the time to consider what family medicine is accomplishing, and very powerfully, what should be the next steps.

Not surprisingly, attending my first meetings of these groups was intimidating. But, on the first morning, I received this email from my husband, Robert Ryder: “You are not a non-physician. You were elected to represent the educators in family medicine. So you represent the future of family medicine. Go do good work.” I must say, I walked a bit taller after that email, and over the last couple of years of leadership within national family medicine, I take these statements very much to heart. And I want others to recognize these truths.

Behavioral science clinicians and educators have the skills needed for leadership in our departments, in our health care systems, in our agencies and policy-making arenas, and in our national organizations and advocacy efforts. We know how to listen and include others. We can elicit divergent views and withstand conflict. We know how valuable it is to include the views of those who feel less powerful in systems. We can tolerate the anxiety that emerges in systems under stress or facing change. We know how to help groups create goals and vision, though we sometimes need help determining whether differences actually emerged. So we know we need collaborators, and generally we know how to play well with others. If we have been successful in working in settings in which our professions were the minority, we have learned these skills. And they are exactly the skills needed for effective leadership.

I truly enjoyed giving talks as president of STFM. Unlike presentations about my work, I learned that I didn’t need to hold back, because I wasn’t talking about me. I was representing something greater than me. To be grandiose, and also accurate, I was able to talk about a future and vision of compassionate, effective health care. It wasn’t a form of bragging about my work or ideas; it became a responsibility to do the best I can to help achieve our common goals. I was given a wonderful platform and support to do so.

And the beat goes on. I will still take the opportunities to advocate for family medicine, for primary care, for integrated health care systems that are focused first on patients and families and that require the collaboration and skills of many. But I also have a commitment to encouraging others to stand up and participate in advocacy and leadership for our common visions. The Collaborative Family Healthcare Association and STFM create wonderful platforms for us to do so. Let’s not waste these opportunities.

This is the first in a series of collaborative blog posts between the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

We’re Listening – STFM Logo Take Two?

Jeri Hepworth, PhD, STFM President, & Stacy Brungardt, CAE, STFM Executive Director

Thanks to all of you who have commented on our logo drafts. As we discussed at the Board meeting, your input is an important part of our vetting process.

Please allow us to clarify this process.

The current logo has served us well, without question. It is a statement to members about our values.  However, as we increase our role with others, an internally-focused logo is not useful and can be detracting. Our role in medical education, transformation of health care, and advocacy work with governmental bodies and other professional organizations requires us to move forward with communications and messaging that convey the importance of the Society. Our recent communications audit tells us that others outside our membership (and even some within) don’t see our logo as one that communicates a professional, progressive organization. We celebrate our current logo, its history, and our founders who developed it. A new logo doesn’t undermine or ignore that history.

Your comments are part of an important vetting process that includes our membership, Board, and staff. The two logos that were presented are not the final logo choices, and we have not spent extravagantly in the design process.

Here’s what we are learning from our feedback gathering process.

  1. Our members read our communications. Within 24 hours, 1,522 of you had opened the email, 689 had clicked through to the web page, and 701 had clicked through to President Jeri Hepworth’s blog post. It’s good to know our messages are reaching you.
  2. Our members are engaged and feel a real connection to STFM. If you weren’t connected, you obviously wouldn’t care what our logo says/looks like.
  3. Your suggestions are constructive. You didn’t just say, “I don’t like it,” you explained why, and provided recommendations. Overall, we didn’t get the sense that most of you are opposed to change, per se, you just don’t like the change direction.

We wish we could sit down with all of you and have a conversation to listen, learn, and discuss. It’s clear that many of you want a family symbol in the logo, and we understand how important the family and the relationships it represents mean to STFM. But, we’ve also had members tell us that the definition of family is changing, and the three-person image is not inclusive of all families.

If we show a family, how does that image differentiate us from, say, a family services agency, a church, a community park, or a YMCA? If we add a medical symbol to the family, perhaps we’re then showing family medicine, but that seems like it might make more sense for an AAFP logo. We’re really about education, so do we add a book or an apple to the family and medical symbol? That would be one busy logo.

Then, consider the logos for organizations that have probably invested mega-bucks for logo research. How do golden arches visually represent cheap hamburgers? And what does Walmart’s star/flower say about discount retail? Wouldn’t a picture of a car be a more literal logo for Mercedes than a triangle? Do we really need to repeat what’s in our organization’s name in images?

Logo design principles say logos should be simple, relevant, scalable, and memorable. Your feedback indicates we may have missed the mark on “relevant.” So, we ask you to continue to share your comments, below. This is a process and everyone at STFM is listening closely to what you’re saying.

The Time Is Right for a New Logo

Jeri Hepworth, PhD STFM President

In October, your STFM Board of Directors asked staff to move forward with development of a new logo. I have to admit an affinity for our current logo. It’s friendly and comfortable, like STFM. It conveys our emphasis on family. However, it’s also dated and hard to read and doesn’t reflect the progressive, innovative organization STFM has become. In fact, during a recent communications audit, STFM members described the figures as play-dough people, aliens, and gingerbread men. And while we may like our 40-year-old play-dough people, they don’t communicate the level of professionalism earned by STFM and family medicine education.

Our messages to Congress point out the need for innovation in primary care training. Our new strategic plan challenges us to be the authority for innovation and research in family medicine education. Innovation is what’s driving family medicine education; our logo needs to send this same message.

I’m excited about the new doors that will be opened with the launch of a new logo. A “rebranding” campaign provides a rare opportunity to raise our profile and let our government, our colleagues, our students, and our patients know about the work we do to prepare the doctors who care for families. This is our chance to communicate that innovative family medicine education is the foundation of the health care system.

I invite you to be a part of the transformation. Shoot me an e-mail, or post a comment here to let me know what you think about the work we’re doing and the direction we’re taking. And please take a few minutes to vote on which logo you feel best represents the professionalism you and your colleagues bring to your job every day.