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July 27, 2012

National recognition for family medicine student group

For the seventh time in nine years, the Student Family Medicine Association (SFMA) was recognized for its efforts in stimulating interest in family medicine and family medicine programming. In a field described as the largest and most competitive yet, the student interest group once again proved its preeminence as one of just nine groups in the U.S. to be honored with a 2012 Program of Excellence Award at the American Academy of Family Physicians’ national conference held in Kansas City, Mo., on July 27.

The SFMA regularly offers hands-on workshops for students.

The SFMA regularly offers hands-on workshops for students. In March, the Chesterfield Family Medicine Residency Program hosted a blood draw/IV insertion workshop where the students were taught the correct technique and then given the opportunity to practice.

The SFMA exposes students to a wealth of information and experiences in the area of family medicine. Judy Gary, M.Ed, SFMA’s faculty advisor, says that it is one of the most active and engaged student groups on campus.

“Its guest lectures, community service projects, clinical workshops and socials help prepare and recruit students to the field by highlighting the role that family physicians play in the overall health system,” says Gary, who is also the Department of Family Medicine’s assistant director of student medical education and the coordinator for the newly formed fmConnect.

The SFMA is the largest and most participatory of Virginia’s Family Medical Interest Groups; nearly half of the approximately 800 VCU medical students registered as AAFP student members in 2012.

SFMA participates in a number of service projects that care for the underserved including the RAM (Remote Area Medical) clinic in rural Wise Co., Va., and at the MOM (Missions of Mercy) Clinic in Gloucester, Va., as well as health screenings for the homeless and the growing Hispanic population in the Richmond area. SFMA also plays an active role in VCU’s own Community Health Fair.

Co-president Kara Rothenberg said, “VCU students are very passionate about community service and we are very proud of the ongoing commitments SFMA has to giving back to the community.” Co-president Michael Cieslinski added that the SFMA has expanded its scope of service within each of these projects this year to include more screening and counseling roles in order for students to better understand the overall challenges to care faced by each demographic.

Housestaff alumnus James Anderson, M.D. with students

The workshop was led by housestaff alumnus James Anderson, M.D., who completed his family medicine training with the Chesterfield Family Medicine Residency and is now an associate clinical professor of family medicine. In addition to learning clinical skills, workshops give students the chance to interact with family physicians and learn about their careers.

Also new in 2012 was the establishment of fmConnect, a separate group designed specifically for third- and fourth-year students to maintain contact and provide programming that accommodates these students’ complex schedules as they complete clinical rotations. The group provides students with more focused programming, advising and information as they pursue careers as family physicians.

SFMA offers workshops and lectures that provide hands-on experiences that might not otherwise be available to students in their first two years of study. The events are so popular that would-be participants sometimes have to enter a lottery to win a seat at the workshop. Professional development opportunities organized by SFMA throughout the year give students access to both professional organizations and leaders in the field.

Gary was especially pleased to see 26 students attend the VAFP Wintergreen Family Medicine Conference this year — making up the largest student contingent of any of the state’s medical schools.

One of the group’s lectures was given by Hunter Jamerson, J.D., VAFP lobbyist, who discussed the current state of legislation directly affecting the practice of family medicine in Virginia. This lecture parlayed into yet another first for the SFMA: a group of students led by Mark Ryan, M.D. participated with the VAFP physician members in a lobby day during the meeting of the Virginia General Assembly session.

The AAFP has featured this year’s Program of Excellence Awardees on its website to promote best-practice recommendations for other family medicine student groups. Read the SFMA’s winning submission.