Tag Archives: leadership

One African American Woman’s Leadership Journey

Judy Washington, MD

Judy Washington, MD

To inspire the next generation of underrepresented in medicine (URM) educators, the STFM Foundation is launching a year-long blog series. In the new series, The Path We Took, URM members will share the path they took to become faculty and leaders in family medicine. I’m delighted to kick off the series by sharing my own leadership journey.

One African American Woman’s Leadership Journey

When you have the privilege to serve in leadership, you have the responsibility to reach back and identify other colleagues who would not otherwise have the opportunity to be recognized. You can do this through mentoring, building systems to support the underrepresented, or financially supporting the individuals or the systems that assist them.

When the opportunity was presented to be a cochair of the Minority and Multicultural Health Collaborative, I said “Yes!”  I was fortunate to work with two wonderful African American women as my cochairs. At the time, both of them were rising leaders in their institutions, and I found myself being both a mentor and a mentee. I found their support of me to be crucial in making me the leader I am today.

As we led the collaborative, we found that its mission to increase minority representation had been challenged over the years by declining underrepresented in medicine (URM) membership and active participation. To combat this, our collaborative submitted a proposal, “Quality Mentorship Through STFM,” to the STFM Project Fund and received a $20,000 grant over 2 years. This grant allowed us to mentor new URM faculty and design a reproducible mentoring model. This model has been adopted by the New Faculty Scholars and led to collaboration with the Women in Family Medicine and New Faculty in Family Medicine Collaboratives. Our mentees continue to be visible and active in STFM. Two will soon complete the Emerging Leaders Fellowship.

Around the time of the project, I was asked to become a trustee of the STFM Foundation. My new challenge was to move from being a mentor and system builder to being a fundraiser. Earlier this year,  I became the campaign chair for the URM Campaign. Donations to the URM campaign will support scholarships for students to attend the Conference on Medical Student Education, scholarships for residents to attend the Faculty for Tomorrow Workshop, scholarships for new faculty to attend the STFM Annual Spring Conference, and scholarships for the Emerging Leaders Fellowship. Funds will also be used to provide mentoring opportunities and fund innovative projects that contribute to a diverse family medicine workforce.

For me now, this reaching back goes beyond  STFM. We need to build the next generation of family medicine educators. This means supporting mentoring programs in middle school through college, and in medical school and in residency.  It includes looking to our community preceptors to find those excellent teachers who can transition into URM faculty. We need to increase URM members within STFM to ensure a diverse membership with a robust supply of new leaders to fill needed roles.  

How I’ve Changed and Am Changing

How the STFM Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship Influenced My Professional Development

  1. Step to the beat of a different drummer
  2. Bring your gift (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum)
  3. Support the rhythm of the group

—Hugh Blumenfeld

Amber Cadick, PhD, HSPP

Amber Cadick, PhD, HSPP

During the keynote address at the STFM Annual Spring Conference last spring, the presenter spoke about the Beatles and which band member everyone would be. Our table, made up of my small group, decided that we would be the “Ringos.” We are the quirky faculty members, the ones that aren’t quite like the others. However, much like Ringo, we keep the beat and know when the rhythm is starting to go astray.

Prior to starting STFM’s Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship, I felt very alone in my position. I had my predecessor to use as a support, but she was busy starting her new position in a different city. I had her files, her old calendar, and her desk, but I felt very alone and concerned that I had made a terrible mistake leaving the familiarity and regulations of the Department of Veterans Affairs. My life was definitely a wild, irregular drum beat.

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Election Paradox

Stacy Brungardt, CAE STFM Executive Director

Stacy Brungardt, CAE
STFM Executive Director

If you read the actions from the August Board meeting, you saw a list of governance changes the STFM Board approved, including the move from a contested election to a slate. The reasons behind this change are complex and have been debated in robust fashion over the past year. Ultimately, the Board thinks it is better for STFM, its members, and the discipline for STFM to expand its Nominations Committee, have a more open and transparent election process, and move to having members vote on a slate.

A wise member, John Franko, MD, explained that the issue is not a problem, it is a paradox, ie, two different ways to approach an issue, neither of which are entirely right or wrong. This was a key learning from Ralph Jacobsen’s book about organizational processing of paradox. Jacobsen’s perspective is that leaders need to manage the tension created by paradox and use it to create and innovate.

What great insight to help us consider this issue.

There will be members who like the change to a slate and some who disagree. We heard both sides in our discussions with members, committees, Board members, and task force members. Each side has its pros and cons, and as we weighed both approaches, the opportunity to be more intentional about getting the best talent and the appropriate diverse composition on our Board won out. At a minimum, I hope it is apparent that this was a thoughtful process that recognizes the tension created by this paradox.

You’ll be seeing the specific bylaws changes related to these issues in early November.

As always, we welcome hearing from you.