Nov. 2, 2023, David Mitchell (Chicago) — When an injured elderly patient came to her rural clinic seeking treatment, Alayna McLean, M.D., M.P.H., felt so unsure of herself that she asked another clinician for help. She attended the 2023 Family Medicine Experience Oct. 26-29, in part, because she didn’t wanted to feel that way ever again.
“I was in residency during the pandemic,” said McLean, a 2022 residency graduate who noted that COVID-19 limited training opportunities. “I needed more hands-on experience, and this was a great opportunity to do that.”
McLean, who practices in Dublin, Ga., honed her skills in clinical workshops that covered nail procedures as well as splinting, casting, wrapping and taping. She also took advantage of learning opportunities at the Global Health Summit, career coaching in the Xchange expo hall and more in a four-day event that sparkled with highlights ranging from leadership lessons and CME to world-class comedy.
“I wanted the experience,” she said Oct. 28 of attending her first FMX. “I wanted to meet people in our profession and find out about career opportunities. I need to figure out long term what I want to do.”
Alayna McLean, M.D., M.P.H., of Dublin, Ga., sits for a professional head shot in the Xchange.
Lisa Tran, M.D., of Chicago participates in an IUD insertion and removal workshop.
Lisa Tran, M.D., was another recent residency graduate looking to fill a gap in training. After graduating this year from a residency program affiliated with a Catholic hospital, she wanted more hands-on training in women’s health procedures. She now is faculty at the Humboldt Park Family Medicine Residency in Chicago.
“Our residents get a lot of opportunities,” she said during an Oct. 28 workshop focused on inserting and removing IUDs. “As faculty, I need to be able to supervise residents and to do it myself.”
Bianca Lambert, M.D., came to Chicago to grow as family medicine leaders and take in the wide range of experiences at FMX.
“As third-year residents getting ready to find jobs and start work, it’s nice to see how much demand there is out there for family doctors,” Lambert said after stopping for a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie in the Xchange CareerLink area with Michele Said, M.D. “It’s nice to feel wanted.”
Lambert and Said, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Family and Social Medicine Residency, were both at FMX for the AAFP’s Chief Resident Leadership Development Program. They found time for much more, including the Global Health Summit, mainstage events and conversations with recruiters.
A career consulting and coaching booth in the Xchange offered one-on-one job search guidance on job searches, financial planning and other topics, while the career pavilion offered broader information.
The Xchange expo hall at the 2023 Family Medicine Experience offers the chance to talk to more than 1,500 exhibitors.
Irene Ho, PA-C, M.B.A., of Macon, Ga., (left) laughs with mainstage host Carisa Barreca from Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe. Ho attended FMX with her husband and practice partner Benjamin Ho, M.D.
Irene Ho, PA-C, M.B.A., was reluctant to attend FMX because physician assistants have their own CME events, but her husband, family physician Benjamin Ho, M.D., was persistent.
“He had rave reviews,” said Ho, who is in private practice with her husband in Macon, Ga. “Every year he’s like, ‘Come with me,’ so we both went to FMX last year in D.C. and had a great time.”
Ho found herself on the main stage Oct. 29 with host Carisa Barreca from Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe. They played a game of Xchange (think Let’s Make a Deal) in which Barreca gave Ho a series of prizes she could either keep or exchange for a secret prize of unknown value.
In one such deal, Ho traded in an autographed head shot of Barreca, the director and choreographer of Second City’s Don’t Quit Your Daydream, and received a headshot of Second City alum Bill Murray … with a fake autograph.
Ho was a good sport and ultimately took home all the prizes, which included bags of Second City merchandise and AAFP-branded products, as well as both head shots.
“I loved it,” Ho said. “I think I really am going to frame this and hang it up. It will be such a great memory.”
The couple also took in the Night at the Museum event Oct. 28, which gave FMX attendees exclusive access to the Museum of Science and Industry.
“All the speakers have been inspiring, but you get so much more than CME,” Benjamin Ho said. “This is an event where we can recharge, reconnect and be reminded why we’re doing this.”
Jennifer Blair, D.O., of Windsor, Mo., especially enjoyed seeing a car exhibit at the museum event, but her top takeaway from the week were learnings from a session on opioid use disorder.
“It’s so prevalent where I live,” she said. “It will be useful to come back and put it into clinical practice.”
Blair has missed just one FMX since attending her first in 2013. When the pandemic moved the event online, she checked herself into an Airbnb so she could get CME without disruptions from her family. Of course, she prefers to attend in person.
“I like reconnecting,” she said. “I see a lot of my attendings and friends from residency.”
Andrea Smith, D.O., of Royal Oak, Mich., (left) and Sumaiya Islam, M.D., of Ferndale, Mich., play with puppies in the Xchange at the Furry Friends booth, which raised money for a local animal shelter.
Larry Johnson, M.D., of Perrysburg, Ohio, experiences health care from a patient’s perspective in the Through Their Eyes virtual reality exhibit.
Attendees also had a chance to see what things look like from the patient perspective in a virtual reality simulation that showed how health disparities affect patient care and outcomes.
“It definitely put me in the shoes of the person with biases against them,” said Kay Thompson, M.D., of Walpole, Mass. “It improved my empathy and made me think about implicit bias in my daily life and practice.”
The four-day 2023 FMX drew roughly 7,800 people. FMX 2024 is scheduled for Sept. 24-28 in Phoenix, and dates and locations for other future events are scheduled through 2030.