Advice From a Student: How to Recruit Medical Students into Family Medicine During Rotation

Medical students, especially those with little exposure to careers in medicine, have great difficulty imagining a career in medicine other than what they see and experience through their rotations.

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Antoinette Moore, 4th-Year Medical Student

And shortly after rotations, they are asked to make choices that place their careers on certain trajectories. And while the scope of someone’s ideal practice will grow and change, the choice of specialty defines us in a way that is undeniably powerful and far reaching into our professional careers.

As I wrap up my third year of medical school, what has become apparent to me is that there are two often unnoticed—and often under-promoted—qualities that influence whether a student chooses one specialty over another.

These two qualities are physical and metaphysical. Physical describes the more brick and mortar/billable procedure/patient population aspects students are exposed to during rotations, such as “Is the preceptorship in a small town or a large urban setting?” and “Does this rotation expose students to a wide variety of patient presentations, procedures, and demographics?” The metaphysical is a bit harder to quantify but importantly demonstrates how happy employees are with their chosen line of work. It speaks to the culture of the rotation environment, which, to the student, serves as a representation of the profession as a whole.

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The Same Old Problems That Each Generation of Women Face in Medicine

Written by the Women in Family Medicine Collaborative

Recent survey data shows that many of the problems faced by members of the Women in Family Medicine Collaborative are the same old problems that recur for each generation.

Members of the collaborative report that their top concern is addressing disparities for women in medicine, followed by negotiations and salaries, and power and control in the workplace. These self-reported concerns are backed up by numbers. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that 47% of entering medical students are women, but just 16% of women are in dean positions, 15% are in department chair positions, and 21% are in full professor positions. Only 32% of full-time women faculty are associate professors or higher, compared with 52% of full-time men faculty. Issues of control and negotiation naturally follow from these kinds of power differentials.

The STFM Women’s Collaborative took this information and presented a multigenerational panel at the STFM 50th Annual Spring Conference. The panel helped to frame, contextualize, and put perspective on the problems we encounter today and have been encountering for years.

Dr Candib found a clipping from the late 1980s addressing concerns about negotiation specific to physicians practicing part-time. The concerns highlighted—how to get recognized for call and how to negotiate benefits—would be very familiar to part-time doctors today. One 1989 panel addressed women’s leadership styles, and another spoke to role conflict and empowerment issues for women in academic family medicine. Even after years of working on these problems, we still face them.

It became clear from the discussion that these issues are not unique to the Women’s Collaborative. Dr Candib showed a 6-minute interview with Dr Jeannette South-Paul recollecting her early experiences as a black woman in family medicine and detailing the different choices that women of color may make in their work within STFM. Racism, elitism, and homophobia were the key topics in that same STFM annual conference in 1989. Audience members and panelists connected content from the panel discussion this year to other talks they had attended. Other groups share the struggles of the Women’s Collaborative: struggles for equality, against bias, and for representation in leadership.  

Though we have a feminist perspective on these struggles, we do not own the solutions to them. Too many of the annual conference discussions happened as ours did: in a conference room big enough for 40, with another discussion about a similar struggle happening 90 minutes later in another conference room with 40 different people.

Incoming STFM President Stephen Wilson encouraged us to put aside our labels at the closing plenary session. Many of us embrace our labels, but we acknowledge that we share common goals. The Women’s Collaborative had good success at collaborating internally to produce the panel, and next, we hope to collaborate externally. We would like to join efforts with other groups doing mutual work to promote common goals. 

The Women’s Collaborative will work to address the leadership needs of women in STFM and within academic family medicine during this academic year. We will actively seek out other STFM collaborations or individuals who share these goals. Where one voice or one face experiences less bias, we all benefit.

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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