Thomas Stern, M.D., FAAFP

June 06, 2011 05:15 pm News Staff

Thomas Stern, M.D., FAAFP, of Sun Lakes, Ariz., died May 28, 2011, at age 90. He had been a member of the Academy since 1956.

Stern received his medical degree from the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, Portland, in 1950, subsequently completing both a rotating internship in 1951 and a resident/general surgery internship in 1952 at St. Vincent Hospital (now Providence St. Vincent Medical Center) there. Previously, he served for four years in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps and V-12 Navy College Training Program.

After practicing in Sherwood, Ore., from 1952-60, Stern moved to Manhattan Beach, Calif., where he maintained a solo practice from 1960-74. From 1970 to 1974, Stern directed the Family Practice Residency Training Program at Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center (now Santa Monica-University of California-Los Angeles Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital). It was during this time that he was tapped to serve as technical adviser for the Marcus Welby, M.D., TV series.

Stern then moved to Kansas City, Mo., to fill the post of director of the AAFP Division of Education. Until his retirement in 1983, he also served the Academy in various other capacities, including as project director and founder of the Residency Assistance Program (now Residency Program Solutions), vice president of education and scientific affairs, deputy EVP, and founder of the AAFP Home Study Self-Assessment Program. After leaving the Academy, he was named the first vice president of professional and corporate affairs for the Family Health Foundation of America, which subsequently became the AAFP Foundation. The AAFP Foundation's Thomas L. Stern, M.D., Lectureship was established in his honor after his 1991 retirement from the foundation.

Among his many other honors and achievements, Stern served as president of the California AFP and the International Center for Family Medicine and was a consultant to the Surgeon Generals of the Army and Navy from 1974-79. His awards include the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Certificate of Excellence, the AAFP Award of Merit, the AAFP Thomas W. Johnson Award for Career Contributions to Family Medicine Education and the AAFP John G. Walsh Award for Lifetime Contributions to Family Medicine.

"Dr. Tom Stern made a huge impact on the AAFP, the AAFP Foundation and many of us as individuals," said AAFP vice president for health of the public and interprofessional activities Dan Ostergaard, M.D. "He was a dear friend and a mentor of mine."

The AAFP Foundation's Center for the History of Family Medicine maintains a sizeable collection of Stern's papers and other artifacts, including his 2001 autobiography, House Calls: Recollections of a Family Physician, and a DVD of an oral history interview conducted by Ostergaard.

The AAFP Foundation is accepting donations in memory of Stern. The specific designation for such donations should be noted in the comments section. Acknowledgement cards of these gifts will be sent to Stern's family.

In addition, donations can be made to the Kellermann Foundation(, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Batwa Pygmies and Bwindi Community Hospital in southwest Uganda that was founded by Scott Kellermann, M.D., one of Stern's former residents.