Category Archives: 50th Anniversary Series

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.

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My Gratitude: Poetry and Prose Celebrating STFM’s Anniversary

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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.

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The Great Family Doctors

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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?

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