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School of Medicine discoveries

June 30, 2015

Student Family Medicine Association wins national award for sixth consecutive year

Medical students at an SFMA eventMedical students at an SFMA event abandoned practicing acupuncture on oranges and decided to test their skills on each other.

The School of Medicine’s Student Family Medicine Association has been honored for a sixth consecutive year with the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Program of Excellence Award, which honors medical student organizations that generate interest in family medicine. Although the AAFP received a record number of entries for the award this year, the SFMA remained ranked on the list as one of the 10 best programs in the country.

The SFMA offers a wide range of activities designed to provide medical students with the opportunity to learn more about family medicine. The organization sponsors lectures, hands-on workshops and community-service opportunities, along with the chance to attend professional conferences and network with family physicians and residents from across the commonwealth.

“I got involved with the SFMA back in my first year and really enjoyed interacting with the members of the planning committee. I liked how passionate the organization was, from the clinical and procedural workshops to the lectures and community service events,” says fourth-year student and past SFMA co-president Jennifer Tran.

Students working on a farmStudents participate in a community service event at Shalom Farms, a learning lab for volunteers and an abundant source of fresh local produce for communities with low access to healthy food.

The program is continually updated as it seeks to engage more students and teach them about important topics facing family physicians, the broad diversity of practice options available to family doctors and the anticipated improvements in financing primary care. Attracting future physicians to the specialty is a key goal of the student organization.

“The shortage of primary care physicians is well documented,” says Judy Gary, M.Ed., SFMA’s faculty advisor. “SFMA has existed for over 20 years and its enduring purpose is to provide all students with information and experiences that expose them to the specialty of Family Medicine, its value in the health care system and the role of family physicians. Being part of such a dynamic organization affords students the opportunity to better understand family medicine–its breadth and scope.”

The Class of 2018’s Michelle Wagner, current co-president of the organization, is taking advantage of every opportunity she can to learn more about the field.

“I appreciate how varied the SFMA’s efforts are. There have been community service opportunities to collect blood pressures and practice motivational interviews at neighborhood health fairs, workshops on mental health conditions and practicing ultrasound with patients, lunch lectures that align with our curriculum and expand our ideas of what family doctors can do in their practice, as well as conferences and social events that bring students and family doctors together in informal settings.”

Students participating in a physical exam workshopThe SFMA sponsors events like this physical exam workshop to help students learn more about family medicine. Events like this helped the SFMA win a national award from the AAFP for the sixth consecutive year.

The SFMA’s award win allowed some of the student members to join an already large contingent from the School of Medicine that was headed to Kansas City, Mo. for the AAFP’s national conference. Among the cohort of nearly 20 students were Tran, Wagner and Alexandra “Lex” Tee, M’18, who was one of 30 students chosen nationally to participate in the AAFP’s Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute.

In the end, says Gary, the award win reflects the consistent strength of the school’s students over the past years. “The students are the key to SFMA’s success. It’s a privilege to work with interested and dedicated leaders who generate great ideas to help themselves and their classmates explore the specialty of family medicine and what family physicians do.”

By Jack Carmichael