Category Archives: 50th Anniversary Series

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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Medicine Inherently Requires All Physicians to Be Teachers


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.

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Our Collective Voices Need to Be Heard


This past year I have had the honor of participating in the STFM Emerging Leaders Fellowship. As an Emerging Leaders fellow, I am learning the mindset, attitude, and behavior of an inspiring and effective physician leader.


Ronya Green, MD, MPH

The fellowship has provided both theoretical and practical tools for leadership. I have received invaluable mentoring and broadened my professional network within STFM. While meeting and working with other faculty across the country we have hopefully made connections that will span our careers.

As an Emerging Leaders fellow, I joined the Family Medicine for America’s Health (FMAHealth) Health Equity Cross Tactic Team. We are working to plan the second annual Starfield Summit—Primary Care’s Role in Achieving Health Equity April 22-25, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. The Summit will bring together thought leaders, experts in primary care and health disparities, and other community members to create collaborative partnerships. Summit participants will engage in strategic discussions and propose a future agenda for tangible ways in which we can bolster primary care education and research efforts to eliminate disparities and achieve equity.So how does this emerging leader imagine the future of family medicine? I believe our future shares common themes with our past. We will continue to advocate for optimal patient health and be accountable to training exceptional family physicians. Our daily work is bigger than us as individuals. Now, more than ever, our collective voices need to be heard.

The future of family medicine includes physicians continuing to work as advocates. We are advocates for our patients—especially the most vulnerable populations that require compassionate, integrative care. We are advocates for our learners who need engaged teachers who willdemonstrate excellence in the comprehensive practice of our specialty.

We are accountable to our patients and communities. We will make the communities we serve better with a holistic approach–such as lobbying to eliminate food deserts and enhancing transportation services. We are accountable to our learners with our words and actions. Our attitude says “You can count on me!” We will teach them to be socially accountable to the future communities they will serve.

I look forward to practicing in a specialty that continues to be on the front line of patient care. I am proud to help train socially conscious physicians who will eliminate health disparities and work towards health equity for all. Our future is bright and I am excited for the journey ahead. Happy 50th anniversary, STFM!