Colleen T. Fogarty, MD, MSc
When Mary Theobald, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Vice President of Communications and Programs, asked me to write a blog in celebration of the 50th anniversary of STFM, I was happy to oblige.
This month marks my 25th anniversary of medical school graduation and entering family medicine residency, so my career represents the second half of STFM’s lifespan!
STFM has been part of my professional development since my early clinical training. As a resident, I attended my first STFM meeting, the Families in Health Conference at Amelia Island. I will never forget the warm welcome I received from everyone I met there including senior colleagues who were well known in the field. My experience at the Families and Health meeting hooked me and I attended the annual meeting later in residency. STFM rapidly became my professional home and solidified my nascent desire to enter a career in academic family medicine. Even in my first practice after residency, as a full-time family physician in a rural community health center, I stayed involved and attended STFM meetings several times.
I have made many important professional relationships over the years through my involvement with STFM. These would not have been possible without this network of accomplished national colleagues. In 2004, I served as the conference chair for the 24th Annual Conference on Families in Health and have been a mentor and served on the steering committee for the Behavioral Health/Family Systems Educator Fellowship over the last several years.
As a member of the 50th Anniversary Task Force, I was once again privileged to meet exciting colleagues both from across the country and the life span of family medicine educators. At the recent annual meeting, during a reflective writing preconference that I was facilitating, I experimented with writings for this blog.
Adam Lake, MD
Precepting is a sieve that catches all the most complex pieces of the clinic day. A man with liver failure, who is somehow still alive, is present for a hospital transition of care visit with our nurse practitioner. He is dying, and while no one has yet told him this, it could be surmised from a quick glance at his chart.
The resident presents a patient with a history of opiate addiction who has a severe ankle sprain, and only the most tenuous employment. The resident wants to know if the risk of relapse is higher if we prescribe an opioid or if the patient loses their job.
Another resident would like to order a patient’s sixth CT scan of the abdomen this year for their non-specific chronic abdominal pain. The treatment here is in first taking a history of the resident’s fears, and in assessing the therapeutic value of another CT.
I am fortunate to rarely precept alone. Our clinic is large enough that I get to eavesdrop on many of the preceptors who trained me. I look up to them as mentors. I see them as The Great Family Doctors, with whom I hope to someday be held in similar esteem. What makes for a Great Family Doctor?
Throughout my medical education, my best mentors have been family physicians. Without exception, they are enthusiastic, committed, passionate, intelligent, and innovative leaders who have inspired me to be the best family physician I can be. As I cross the midpoint of my residency training, I have spent more time thinking about the next steps in my career and how to best continue to affect change. I want to prioritize teaching family medicine and pursue a career either in academics or in a position where I can work closely with medical students or residents.
Karl Dietrich, MD, MPH
Medicine inherently requires all physicians to be teachers, and find effective and efficient ways to share information with patients. As a high school teacher prior to pursuing medicine, this was one of the appealing parts of becoming a physician. By embracing our role as teachers, we allow our patients to learn about their own health, become their own best advocates, and hopefully influence others to think more about their health. Teaching family medicine appeals to me because it could broaden my potential impact by not only increasing the number of future family physicians but by increasing the number of physicians in other fields with a strong understanding of the value of family medicine. We know that a strong primary care system will be essential to the ongoing success of our health care system, and I see no better way to ensure that than by increasing the number of committed family physicians in this country.