Alabama Medical Student Takes on National Leadership Role

Tate Hinkle Named Regional Coordinator for National Medical Student Network

Thursday, February 02, 2012


LEAWOOD, Kan. — Tate Hinkle, a second-year student at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, has been named a regional coordinator for the American Academy of Family Physicians National Family Medicine Interest Group Network. As coordinator, Hinkle will serve as a consultant and resource for the FMIGs on medical school campuses in the nine states and three U.S. territories — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — that comprise Region 4 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.

Hinkle completed his master’s degree in biological and environmental sciences at Troy University, Troy, Ala., and his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences from Auburn University before joining the University of Alabama School of Medicine’s Rural Medicine Program in 2009. He chose family medicine because the specialty fits his commitment to serving others.

“I think we all go into medicine for the same reason — to help people,” said Hinkle. “From a young age, I realized I wanted to be a doctor, but never knew what specialty until I shadowed my first family physician. I saw the deep trust that his patients put in him and the relationship they had developed over many years as a doctor and patient. I knew that I’d found what I wanted to do with my life.”

Throughout his academic career, Hinkle has served in leadership and service organizations. Currently the student representative on the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors, he also is president of the University of Alabama School of Medicine FMIG.

Hinkle’s dedication to family medicine spurred his involvement in University of Alabama FMIG.

“I think we have a lot of passion for medicine and people in family medicine” he said. “I want people to ask, ‘Why are those people so happy doing what they’re doing?’ I want people to see what I see. If we can show people what family medicine is all about, they’re more likely to choose family medicine.”

As an FMIG regional coordinator, Hinkle provides a role model for fellow students at a time when demand for family physicians is growing. The Affordable Care Act will implement significant changes in the way that health care is delivered. The reformed system will emphasize primary medical care provided in a patient-centered medical home — an approach that incorporates physician-led teams of professionals who work with the patient to prevent health problems, coordinate care and avoid preventable complications of chronic conditions. That new focus increases the need for family physicians and their primary care physician colleagues.

“Family Medicine Interest Groups are one of the best ways that medical students learn about the breadth, depth and rewards of family medicine,” said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Regional coordinators are key to introducing students not only to family medicine, but also to the opportunities out there for both service and leadership in their communities and their profession.”

Hinkle also has served as alternate delegate representing Alabama to the Student Congress at the National Conference for Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students and as president of the student chapter of the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians.

In addition, Hinkle has served as a clinic volunteer in the Equal Access Birmingham health clinic, a diabetes educator for the University of Alabama School of Medicine Diabetes Education Initiative and a member of the Troy-Pike County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 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 Follow us on Twitter,( and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,