Aaron Meyer Named Regional Coordinator for National Medical Student Network

Springfield, Ill., native is student at St. Louis University School of Medicine

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Aaron Meyer, a first-year student at St. Louis University School of Medicine, has been named a regional coordinator for the American Academy of Family Physicians National Family Medicine Interest Group Network. As a coordinator, Meyer will serve as a consultant and resource for the FMIGs on medical school campuses in the 10 states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin— that comprise Region 2 of the network.

The AAFP established the National FMIG Network to strengthen the on-campus organizations that focus on promoting family medicine as a career. Composed of campus faculty and student FMIG leaders, appointed regional coordinators, and an elected national coordinator, the network fosters communication among FMIGs across the country.

Meyer said his interest in medicine grew from his recognition that a person’s health status affects every aspect of his or her life. Poor health affects a person’s ability to keep a job, it burdens families financially, and it impacts one’s relationships and quality of life, he said.

“Medicine intertwines with so many areas of a person’s life,” he said. Family medicine attracted him “because it emphasizes care of the underserved,” he continued. “My passion lies in working in a field that betters the health of my community, that improves the health of people who need it the most. I see myself serving the most marginalized of society, working at a practice that provides health care to the homeless.”

Meyer has served as alternate student director on the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors and as the Missouri AFP’s delegate to the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students. Through his positions with the Missouri AFP, Meyer is helping develop legislation that would increase loan repayments for family physicians working in underserved areas in Missouri. He also founded and serves as current president of SLU School of Medicine’s Physicians for Human Rights chapter.

In addition, Meyer serves as a member of St. Louis’ Winter Outreach team, bringing emergency supplies to St. Louis’ homeless when temperatures drop below 20 degrees. He currently directs a Homeless Healthcare Service elective at SLU School of Medicine where he helped organize an influenza vaccination day at St. Louis’ tent cities. He also worked with homeless and low-income people as program staff at Nativity House Day Shelter Program through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

“He is solidly committed to family medicine and to helping those less fortunate than himself,” said F. David Schneider, MD, MSPH, professor and chair of family medicine at St. Louis University School of Medicine. “I believe Aaron will become a leader for our specialty as he progresses toward becoming a family physician. His commitment to changing the way we practice medicine in America is tremendous. His work with the underserved in St. Louis stems back into his undergraduate years, and this past year he has diligently worked with our local Effort for AIDS organization to integrate better screening practices for their clients.”

As an FMIG regional coordinator, Meyer provides a role model for fellow students at a time when the United States is facing a serious shortage of primary care physicians. The AAFP Workforce Report projects a shortage of nearly 40,000 family physicians by 2020. That shortage will be particularly felt in rural and urban underserved areas that have struggled for access to care for decades.

The focus on primary care during congressional discussion of health care reform has increased interest in family medicine. In 2011, family medicine residency programs attracted 1,317 U.S. medical school graduates to the specialty — 133 more than in 2010 — according to the National Residency Match. Moreover, family medicine residency programs offered an additional 100 positions this year. AAFP leadership attribute the improved Match results to growing awareness of family physicians’ importance in patient care and a greater appreciation for the role they will play in a reformed health care system.

National policies have begun to address the shortage through programs such as the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan forgiveness to students who practice in underserved areas after completing their residencies.

“Family Medicine Interest Groups are an important part of our efforts to increase the number of students who choose family medicine as their specialty,” said Roland Goertz, MD, MBA, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “They introduce students to the scope of family medicine, the expertise of family physicians and the professional satisfaction of providing comprehensive care to an entire family over their lifetimes.”

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).