STFM Treasurer

Gretchen Irwin, MD, MBA

Personal History

Gretchen Irwin, MD, MBA  currently serves as the associate dean for Graduate Medical Education and ACGME Designated Institutional Official (DIO) for the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita and is an associate professor with tenure in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. 

Dr Irwin graduated with honors from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, majoring in Biology and minoring in Political Science. She attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine completing her medical degree and an area of concentration in Women’s Health in 2005. Following medical school, she completed her residency at the University of Missouri Kansas City Family Medicine Residency where she concomitantly earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Rockhurst University. Dr Irwin served as chief resident in 2008 and completed an operative obstetrics fellowship at the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2009. She also completed a faculty development fellowship at University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill in 2009.

Dr Irwin joined the faculty at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita in 2010 and has served  in multiple educational roles including as the clerkship director for the required, third year, family medicine clerkship, as program director for the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Family Medicine Residency at Wesley Medical Center and in her current role as associate dean and DIO.

Additionally, she currently serves as the treasurer of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and has previously held leadership positions with the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. In 2023, she was the recipient of both the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians Exemplary Teacher Award and the American Academy of Family Physicians  2023 Exemplary Teaching Award for full-time faculty.

Position Statement

Early in my medical training, I recognized that I would need to be an effective and compassionate clinician, a patient advocate in the public policy arena, a scholar who contributed to the ongoing knowledge base of medicine and research through research and a teacher of medical students and residents to be professionally fulfilled. I sought a career in academic family medicine in order to make meaningful contributions across several areas and have a broad impact on community health.

However, as we all know, many of the required skills for a career in academic medicine aren’t taught along with the clinical skills learned in medical school and residency. Even though I was filled with enthusiasm, I needed mentorship, resources and a community of support that would help me navigate my chosen career path. Thankfully, I had been introduced to STFM as a medical student and knew that STFM could provide the pieces I needed to help me fill in the gaps that I had.  Now that I’m in the middle portion of my career, I still turn to STFM for the resources to help me continue to be effective in my role. More than that, I turn to STFM to find a community of like-minded individuals who understand that to be a medical educator is both a tremendous gift and awesome responsibility. 

My experience has been that change is the only constant in academic medicine and membership organizations. In recent years, that rate of change seems to have accelerated. STFM will be critical in helping us all to navigate the transforming environment. It is my hope that as a member of the Board of Directors I would be able to offer skills, enthusiasm, and commitment to helping STFM remain the home for academic family medicine educators.

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?

The challenge in being the indispensable professional home for all family medicine educators lies in the diversity that family medicine educators represent. We are a broad swath of professionals with interests that span the gamut of the patient experience both within and outside of the confines of our examination room walls. Our diversity as an organization in terms of membership and interests that those members champion is our greatest strength. Yet  with such diversity it would be easy to become stretched in many directions and make little progress on anything. To  harness the power of our diversity, we must continue to prioritize our work as an organization to find the balance between meeting the needs of all of our constituents with the need to focus resources on key initiatives.  

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.

Currently, the medical education system is constrained by funding models and historical practices which incentivize time-based curriculum rather than a focus on competency. I believe that most medical educators recognize that a linear path will not work for all learners; however, the ability to redesign that path for each individual has been limited by a system focused on time rather than the competencies to be acquired with each experience.  As teachers of family medicine, we will need to determine how we address the calls for transition to competency based education in a real and meaningful way. Ultimately, if competency based education is to be implemented, STFM will need to take the lead in multiple domains such as advocacy to change payment systems and funding models, organizational leadership to define the core attributes, knowledge and skills required of medical students and residents at each stage of training, resources to facilitate redesign of curriculum and evaluations to truly individualize training and the faculty development to implement such radical changes in our educational environments. 

Share your experience at bringing people together with diverse agendas and finding common ground

Relationships drive so much of our success or failure in the work that is done in organizations. 

One cannot wait until a time of conflict or discord to build relationships; rather it is the investment in careful listening to diverse viewpoints where individuals seek to understand one another that happens in times of calm that allows and organization to weather the storms that come with clashing agendas. When everyone is united for a mission that inspires, has a voice in the discussion, and is respected for divergent viewpoints, diverse agendas can be a helpful part of moving discussion toward an optimal solution.

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