Renee Crichlow, MD
In the last couple of years, I have been a co-teacher in an undergraduate program part of whose mission is to increase underrepresented in medicine (URM) students in our medical school. There are many reasons I have chosen to do this and to fully understand, I thought it would be important to share a little bit of my student career history.
To begin, nothing in here is about bragging. It’s really about sharing a story that may be similar to what others have seen.
My high school was a very high performing public school: we had 13 National Merit Scholars in the year I graduated, and I was one of them. (Except at that time in 1985 my award was called National Merit Outstanding Negro Scholar. I’m not joking. That’s exactly what it was called in 1985.) I mention this because it’s an indication of the fact that I would have been considered a very high-capacity, high-potential performer for college.
For many reasons that I won’t go into, there was no family support for me either financially or socially to enter college. So I found a way to get to college by myself. Eventually, I decided to stay in the town that I grew up in and went to school at Oklahoma University.
In order to afford food and books, I had to work night shifts at Hardee’s, closing the restaurant quite late. I didn’t have a car so if my friend couldn’t pick me up I walked back to campus. I worked multiple nights each week and carried a full credit load. I would say my grades there were mediocre at best. By the end of the first semester, it was clear to me that I was very bored staying in the same town that I grew up in. I went to the large pile of brochures that I’d been sent after winning National Merit Outstanding Negro Scholar award and I chose to apply to Boston University because it had rolling admissions and would accept me based on my ACT and SAT scores alone as my GPA was not very impressive. I ended the year with about a 3.2.
Isabel Chen, MD, MPH
Inspiring, career informing, and irreplaceable—these words barely capture the rich and humbling experience of serving in STFM leadership. Taking on the dual role of Resident Representative and Graduate Medical Education Committee member gave me the insight and voice to advance the breadth and impact of our specialty and I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity.
When I started my term, I felt welcomed wholeheartedly by the board and the committee. I found like-minded mentors and role models committed to advancing the training of this country’s primary care workforce so that it serves our trainees, our patients, and our communities at large. These leaders and change agents embodied the best of family medicine and it was an honor to join their company.
This past year was a well-rounded experience for leadership development. Committee work included creating tangible deliverables to STFM members, like our Residency Faculty Fundamentals Certificate Program, and participating in research projects and conference presentations. Serving on the board challenged and strengthened my strategic and organizational skills. I strongly recommend the experience to any trainees passionate about the recruitment, training, and future of our workforce and our impact on this country’s health and wellness!
While I am already mourning the end of my tenure, I think about how deeply STFM has shaped my career path and I look forward to a long career as an active STFM member!
Thank you to all in the STFM family for making this an unforgettable year.
Johnny Tenegra, MD
So much of 21st century medicine can seem dehumanizing. Whether it is handling prior authorizations by insurances, signing hundreds of orders from pharmacies, or even spending hours in front of a computer screen clicking checkboxes on your electronic medical records, I think to myself that this is not why I entered medicine. As much as every day seems to come to routine, we can’t forget about the memorable moments that come with those special doctor-patient relationship encounters. I spent some time reflecting on my work in academic medicine and realized there have been many times that my patients have helped me be resilient.
Sometimes my patients have great suggestions. I had just finished precepting my last patient, but the clinic was supposed to be finished a half hour ago. I had had a busy afternoon, multitasking, handling phone messages, nursing issues, and even interviewing a resident applicant when I received a message about a patient needing some lab results (thank goodness they were normal!), and I had to call her with a message. I apologized that it was a busy week and for the length of time it took to respond to her, and she detected that I was tired. Realizing it was a late night, my patient then said, “Go home and get some dinner with your wife. I’ll be okay.”
Sometimes my patients are my coaches. Several months later, a couple of my patients noted I was running behind, and I sat down to thank them for being patient with me that day. They told me that I was a sweetheart for not making them feel rushed and that they appreciated my listening to their thoughts and suggestions. Feeling a boost of enthusiasm to get through the rest of my clinic, I gave them a couple hugs for the extra pat on the back.