Kristina Zimmerman Named Regional Coordinator for National Medical Student Network

Dalton, Pa., resident is student at The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton

Thursday, Feb. 07, 2013


LEAWOOD, Kan. — Kristina Zimmerman, a second-year student at The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pa., has been named a regional coordinator for the American Academy of Family Physicians National Family Medicine Interest Group Network. As coordinator, Zimmerman will serve as a consultant and resource for the FMIGs on medical school campuses in six states — Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C., and Uniformed Services students — that comprise Region 3 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.

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

As an FMIG regional coordinator, Zimmerman provides a role model for fellow students at a time when demand for family physicians is growing. Health care delivery is changing dramatically as provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented. The reformed health 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.

An undergraduate medical mission trip to Honduras spurred Zimmerman to go into medicine. She recounted the joy of sight when the mission’s doctor provided glasses to a 75-year-old farmer whose vision prevented him from working his fields.

“At that point, I realized I could make a real difference in people’s lives by what I choose to do,” she said. “From that experience, I also realized I want to help people in underserved areas. I thought I wanted to work internationally, but I went home and saw in my own community, in my own family, that there was a need. I have chosen family medicine because I felt I could reach the most people and help them prevent health problems by providing primary care.”

Zimmerman is a volunteer with the Care and Concern Clinic, a health facility for low-income and uninsured patients in Pittston, Penn. She also has volunteered with Compassionate Care Hospice and the Hospital Elder Care Life program at the Community Health Systems Hospital in Scranton. As a National Health Service Corps scholar, Zimmerman plans to practice in a federally qualified health center, a clinic that focuses on providing care to the underserved, rural, low-income or other people who have limited access to health care.

Currently co-president of The Commonwealth Medical College FMIG, Zimmerman has organized panels that enabled students to interact with family physicians in various practice settings and planned a free community health fair as part of Primary Care Week activities. In addition, she served as the student delegate to the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians Congress of Delegates and to the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students. While working toward her master’s degree in biomedical science, Zimmerman served as vice president of the Graduate Student Council.

Zimmerman has made several research presentations, including her most recent, "Factors associated with utilization of emergency department care by patients enrolled in an HIV clinic," at the Pennsylvania Public Health Association Conference in October 2012.

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology with a minor in gerontology from Arizona State University, Tempe in 2008, Zimmerman completed her master of biomedical science from The Commonwealth Medical College in 2011.

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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.

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