Young leaders in family medicine excited about the future of the specialty

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AAFP News: What advice do you have for students considering family medicine?

Hoffman: Find your people. Family medicine is incredibly broad. Whether your passions are sports medicine, ultrasound, obstetrics, research, health policy, integrative medicine or osteopathic manipulation, or any other field you can think of, there is a group in family medicine for you. It’s obviously a strength of family medicine, but it’s something medical students struggle to understand. If you are exposed to only one family doctor, you have seen only one family doctor.

There are diverse groups of people within this great specialty, so the national conference is a great way to find people who share your passions in family medicine, and you can envision your future career by connecting with these people.

Stisher: Participate in the national conference!

AAFP News: Amanda, you were chair of this event, so why don’t you tell us why?

Stisher: Well, this is the first in-person national conference we’ve had in three years, so everyone is going to be super excited to meet face to face. We have special workshops for students and residents this year that you won’t want to miss.

For students, we have a huge showroom where you can meet the majority of residency programs from across the country, so you can compare and see what they have to offer. If you are looking for something specific in a program, you can see which programs match your goals. And you meet with residents and faculty from those programs to see where you might fit best.

In addition, being involved in the Congresses, which I preferred, is a way of advocating for change, whether for family medicine or for our patients.

Being around people who are passionate about family medicine and who are just as passionate as you are is one of the best feelings I have ever had. As a student, that’s when I knew I had found my people.

AAFP News: Samuel, what do you say to your students?

Mathis: If you are considering family medicine, you need to think about the style and direction of what you want to do. Family medicine is so malleable that you can do whatever you want with your practice, from rural work to full practice in an urban setting or direct primary care. It is therefore important to determine the type of practice you want and the type of patients you want to work with and see. If you come into residency with an idea of ​​what you want to do, it will help you get the most out of residency and ensure you learn everything you need to be successful.

AAFP News: Did family medicine interest groups influence your choice of specialty or did you already know what you wanted to do?

Mathis: For me, it was my family medicine rotation in third year. I had a family doctor who was involved in advocacy, and working with these family doctors during my rotation, I realized that I didn’t want to give up medicine to practice a specialty. This is what really worked for me.

For students now entering family medicine at my institution, the FMIG plays a huge role in their decision to go into family medicine because it’s the first point of contact for first and second years where they can learn about the breadth and depth of family medicine. If you want to learn more about family medicine, you should definitely get involved with your institution’s FMIG.

Hoffman: I love FMIGs because they are student-run. Students decide which speakers to bring and what training opportunities to have. I was involved in my FMIG from the start and was able to pursue many meaningful projects, from opioid education to ultrasound skills. I also bonded with classmates who shared my values ​​and interests. You don’t need to be nationally involved to explore family medicine; you can look within your own department and discover great diversity in the field.

AAFP News: What would you like more students to understand about family medicine?

Stisher: I heard someone describe it perfectly. They said that family medicine is like a pluripotent stem cell, a cell with which you can do anything. You learn everything, and then you can do whatever you want with it. If you want a career in rural practice, like (former AAFP President) John Cullen in Alaska, you can do appendectomies, give birth and everything else; or you can be a hospitalist; you can concentrate on ambulatory medicine if you wish; you can provide comprehensive care; there are so many possibilities. There are family doctors who do endoscopy and all kinds of things. You can become anything you want through family medicine training because of the breadth of knowledge we get.

Mathis: Family physicians are ideally placed to take on leadership roles within their universities or employment situations due to the fact that our training is so broad. We are able to communicate with our clinical and surgical colleagues, and our work is such that we are natural collaborators. We make fantastic leaders because we are able to see the whole of an organization, as opposed to just a part.

Hoffman: The number of family physicians in academic leadership has grown, and that’s consistent with what you’re saying, Sam. We’re poised to be leaders in academia and our health care systems . Students need to understand that the future of family medicine is truly bright. You will have the autonomy to decide where you practice and what type of care you provide.

When it comes to payment for primary care, we are seeing a slow but sure move towards a health care system that is more focused on primary care. Family physicians will truly thrive in this environment.

AAFP News: A final thought?

Hoffman: I am incredibly grateful to the AAFP. They played a crucial role in my medical education and I cannot envision my future in my career in family medicine without the AAFP. This is where I found my home, my purpose and my voice within a specialty.

Mathis: Family medicine has never been a specialty that fits into a box or a mould. We have always sought to get out of all the constraints imposed on us. The future of family medicine depends on our ability to push the boundaries and push back anything that would require us to do just one thing. The beauty of family medicine is that we break the rules. We establish the rules of the game we want to play. And that’s how we’ll continue to succeed, by continuing to support our members who are redefining what it means to be a family physician.

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