I received my doctorate in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi, completed my residency at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and fellowship in Health Psychology in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). I worked in primary care in the VA system before transitioning back UMMC Family Medicine.
While I don’t consider my career trajectory as linear or even meticulously planned, I wholeheartedly see the theme of being committed to doing the right thing throughout. I grew up in a working class home where dedication to family and a giving spirit were deeply rooted in its foundation. Whether it is in my patient care, teaching residents or students, or working with faculty, I am dedicated to helping us as a collective more towards excellence. STFM provided me with a professional home where I am inspired by others but also where I am able to contribute as well. I have been most am able to contribute by leading the Behavioral Science and Family Systems Educator Fellowship (BFEF), which provides education and support for the next generation of behavioral science faculty.
As family medicine educators, we are in times where our dedication to educating our patients, students, residents and faculty is critical. We have an opportunity to advance patient care and be seen as trusted source of information. We also have a responsibility to assist our faculty and future physicians care for themselves. I am honored to work within family medicine and STFM and look forward to bringing that spirit and passion for keeping those shared values of service, family, and excellence in view as we look forward to a bright future.
If I have learned anything over the past year, whether willingly or unwillingly, it is that flexibility and reflection are crucial. Not unlike others, I have been challenged to take a critical eye and examine my patient care and educational activities to filter out what is absolutely essential and to deliver content in a safe and efficient manner. The silver lining in the chaos has been that I have been challenged to abandon all of my preconceived notions and live outside of my comfort zone…and that is where growth, true, leaps and bounds growth, occurs. It is my hope that I bring that perspective to this position and encourage others to study and disseminate that information to our group and beyond. We need to question no only the why behind what we are doing but the how, the when and the where. Furthermore, we need to be flexible to let go of some of the things we have always done and yet be mindful that some of those things hold purpose and need to be retained. I hope to be mindful about the “who” as well. For me, our current membership of STFM is extremely important and we must also be willing to reflect on who is not at our table and invite them there and remove barriers that may exist. Finally, I hope that we take a moment and appreciate what we do well and continue to put our energy behind those missions. The members of STFM do a phenomenal job of connecting and building relationships. I am hopeful that we will continue to ask ourselves “what is the next level and how can we get there?” because we can always improve.
Answers to Candidate Questions
What actions does STFM need to take to move STFM toward the goal of being the indispensable professional home for all family medicine educators?
I personally believe that STFM is the indispensable professional home to all family medicine educators. I think the better question is how do we grow our pool of family medicine educators and continue to have a professional pipeline in place for the future of family medicine. There have been seismic shifts in the last 10-15 years that have strained educational environments. Therefore, I believe it will take collaboration with other family medicine organizations to advocate for the restructuring of our system to allow our educators to provide high quality education that yields a workforce ready to meet the demands of our patients and future learners.
Choose one or two key challenges you anticipate that STFM will face in the next 3 years and describe a potential course of action to address each challenge.
Two key challenges that exist now are the wellness of our students, residents and faculty and to put the family back into family medicine. These are critical challenges with no easy solutions but I also feel that they are related. I believe the cornerstone to restoring wellness in our profession is multifaceted and involves macro and micro level changes. We can teach the skills needed to be well but if the system does not support them, we have only created further frustration in that we know the solution we just cannot attain it. Furthermore, there are so many educators and physicians who have the passion to be the “family” physician but time constraints and other factors create a tension that leads to burnout. STFM’s strength is in mobilizing its members and building relationships. I believe that with partnering with other organizations, we can initiate real and lasting changes in these areas.
Share your experience at bringing people together with diverse agendas and finding common ground.
One of the best books I have read has been the Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun. There is much to be learned from an individual who can rally a diverse group of people around a common cause and inspire them to fight to the end to achieve a goal. It takes the ability to communicate a message, listen and empathize, demonstrate and expect loyalty, and exhibit courage among other qualities. I believe we all have a place where we can serve, that fundamentality we all want to do the right thing, and we want to perform at the best of our ability. We have to be able to communicate our goal and demonstrate these qualities in order to inspire others and direct change.