Theo Hensley Named Regional Coordinator for National Medical Student Network

Chuckey, Tenn., native is student at James H. Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Robie “Theo” Hensley, III, of Johnson City, Tenn., a second-year student at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, has been named a regional coordinator for the American Academy of Family Physicians National Family Medicine Interest Group Network.

As a coordinator, Hensley will serve as a consultant and resource for the FMIGs on medical school campuses in Region 4 of the network. Composed of nine states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont — as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Region 4 has the highest density of medical schools in the FMIG 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.

Hensley said his interest in medicine began with a football injury in high school. “I realized in our most vulnerable times, the physician is there to help; they dedicate their lives to helping others. I wanted to know how I could do that.”

Family medicine attracted Hensley because the specialty requires a wide range of expertise, from physical to psychological to social health issues and because it offers the best chance to affect people’s lives.

“You’re never bored,” he said of family medicine. “You can address the physical, the mental and the social health needs of people. It doesn’t matter who walks in your door, you can help them and have a profound effect on the whole person — not just a body part.”

Moreover, family medicine offers him the chance to have a career that enables him to have time with his family and outside interests, Hensley said. “I think people forget what is important in life. And money is not always number one.”

In addition to his FMIG work, Hensley is a student member of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors. He has volunteered with the University of Tennessee Clinic Vols program in Knoxville, Tenn.; in the emergency room in the Johnson City, Tenn., Medical Center; at the Church Hill Free Medical Clinic in Church Hill, Tenn.; and as a health care provider for the Migrant Workers Free Health Clinics in Newport and Midway, Tenn. He also has been a teacher with the Sevier County, Tenn., High School Health Camp and worked with the Tar Wars anti-tobacco program for local fourth graders in Washington County, Tenn.

“His enthusiasm is contagious to those around him,” said T. Scott Holder, M.D., president of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians, of Hensley. “It is only through the leadership and positive perspective of family medicine with the other medical students that the future of family medicine will continue to flourish.”

As an FMIG regional coordinator, Hensley 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 AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,