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Wednesday Aug 12, 2015

Mentoring Key to Molding Next Generation of Leaders

The AAFP Foundation recently brought together 30 brilliant young people -- 15 medical students and 15 family medicine residents -- to begin an innovative, yearlong leadership development program.

The Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute identified 30 participants through a competitive process that generated 115 applicants. The program's intent is to expand the number of future family medicine leaders and provide valuable training to help prepare them for this important role.  

Photo courtesy of AAFP Foundation
Fifteen family medicine residents and 15 medical students were selected to participate in the AAFP Foundation's Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute. The participants  met Aug. 1-2 in Leawood, Kan.

An integral component of the Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute is mentoring, and I have the great privilege of serving as a faculty member for the program. The participants and the faculty members met for the first time Aug. 1-2 at AAFP headquarters in Leawood, Kan., after the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students in Kansas City, Mo. Participants were divided into three tracks: Policy and Public Health Leadership, Personal and Practice Leadership, and Philanthropic and Mission-driven Leadership.

Residents and students were each assigned a mentor, who will provide guidance and support in the execution of projects the mentees will work on during the coming year. In completing their projects, mentees will demonstrate their leadership and skill development while accomplishing important work related to the chosen track.  

Listening to their project ideas was fascinating; they covered a wide range of issues, including childhood obesity, caring for the homeless, improving patient care by using technology to obtain information between office visits and supporting military families. The passion and talent around those tables was palpable. The participants helped each other flesh out their project ideas, and they looked to faculty to fill in the gaps when they had questions.

My colleagues serving as mentors are a phenomenal group of family physicians, including past AAFP presidents, Board members and other established leaders in our specialty. Mentors will not only provide guidance and support, they also will serve as role models, reflecting leadership attributes that the program is hoping to impart. The Emerging Leader Institute faculty members will also be available to help the participants throughout the year.  

The connections we made with these students and residents already are proving valuable. For example, one student in my track is interested in rural health care, but she had not met anyone who practices full-scope family medicine in that setting until she met me. I plan to help mentor her. Another student I met during the weekend is going to do a rotation at my clinic.

As a faculty member, this experience has been extremely rewarding. Helping to guide students and residents always is fulfilling because it helps to remind me why we do what we do. It also takes me back to a time during training when I was excited about all that was still to come. I felt confident and proud of those emerging leaders in that room, and I look forward to seeing the amazing work that evolves from their projects.

The early feedback from the students and residents has been overwhelmingly positive. Here's a sample:

“This has been an empowering and inspiring experience," said Tequilla Manning, a third-year medical student from the University of Kansas Medical Center. "Medical school is often draining, but the (Family Medicine Leads) Emerging Leader Institute has brought me back to my core values and vision for my future. Yay! I’m on fire again! Thank you.”

AAFP Foundation President Jason Marker, M.D., told me the foundation had been looking for a signature education program, and Family Medicine Leads was the result of those efforts. In addition to creating the Emerging Leader Institute, the foundation increased the number of scholarships it provides for National Conference to 250, up 50 from last year. Family Medicine Leads Scholarships will focus on rising second-, third- and fourth-year students, with the goal of influencing their commitment to the specialty.  

"We know that our donors have always been passionate about student and resident issues, but this initiative can push it to the next level," said Marker. "Leadership development is a philanthropic goal. Maybe you don’t have the time to mentor students or residents directly, but maybe you can contribute some dollars, so by helping us pull this off you are helping the pipeline as a donor."

The AAFP Foundation(www.aafpfoundation.org) is the philanthropic arm of the AAFP. Its mission is to advance the values of family medicine by promoting humanitarian, educational and scientific initiatives that improve the health of all people.  The foundation supports more than 20 programs each year(www.aafpfoundation.org), including disaster relief, an annual Family Medicine Cares International delegation trip to Haiti, research stimulation grants, family medicine interest groups, Tar Wars programs and much more.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, the foundation is supported through donations. This means that if we don’t donate, these programs can’t succeed. Donors have the option of earmarking donations for a particular program or area, and as new physicians, I would encourage you to donate to Family Medicine Leads to help develop our future family physicians.  

If you are interested in serving as a faculty member or mentor for this program in the future, please contact the foundation. I assure you it will be well worth your time.

Beth Oller, M.D., practices full-scope family medicine with her husband, Michael Oller, M.D., in Stockton, Kan.

Posted at 03:49PM Aug 12, 2015 by Beth Oller, M.D.

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