Jeremy Thompson Named Regional Coordinator

Lexington, Ala., native is a student at University of Alabama School of Medicine

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Jeremy Thompson, a third-year student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, Hunstville, has been named a regional coordinator for the American Academy of Family Physicians National Family Medicine Interest Group Network. As a coordinator, Thompson will serve as a consultant and resource for the FMIGs on medical school campuses in the 17 states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming — that comprise Region 1 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.

Thompson, a native of Lexington, Ala., said his family physician influenced his decision to become a family physician. The physician was important to the people in Lexington, and Thompson wanted to be “just like her.” Thompson plans to return to rural northwest Alabama to practice family medicine. It was an easy decision, he said.

“All the people in my hometown helped me to be where I am today, and I want to give back to them,” he explained. “In family medicine, you build lifelong relationships. In small town, rural America, you care for people through all the times of their lives. You can have a real impact on others’ lives. And knowing there’s a need for primary care doctors in rural areas, why would I do anything else when I want to go to a rural area.”

Moreover, family medicine offers a lifestyle that Thompson seeks. As a family physician, he will have time to spend with his own family, he said.

Thompson has served as the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians delegate to the AAFP

National Conference for Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students and as student chapter president at the Alabama AFP.

Advocating for patient access to primary medical care is among Thompson’s top interests. He has served as the University of Alabama School of Medicine delegate to the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians Scientific and Student Leadership Symposium and represented the Medical Association of Alabama at the AMA National Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

Thompson also works to provide care to underserved patients. He has volunteered at the University of Alabama School of Medicine free medical clinic, Equal Access Birmingham; with the Azalea Place assisted living center; and at the East Alabama Medical Center. In addition, he is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

As an FMIG regional coordinator, Thompson 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.

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