Family Medicine for America's Health

Workforce Tactic Team Sets Stage to Increase Ranks of FPs

March 04, 2019 04:04 pm Sheri Porter

Several years of grinding committee work deserves some summing up -- and some applause -- on its completion. Such is the case with the Workforce Education & Development Tactic Team that launched in December 2014 along with six other core teams to achieve the strategic plan of Family Medicine for America's Health (FMAHealth).

[young male physician writing on chart]

Authors of an article(journals.stfm.org) titled "Collaborating to Achieve the Optimal Family Medicine Workforce" published in the February issue of Family Medicine distilled the team's efforts to clear a pathway to increase family physician production and build a diverse U.S. primary care workforce.

According to the authors, a significant outcome of the workforce team's efforts was the creation of the long-term project America Needs More Family Doctors: 25 x 2030 collaborative.

The initiative, formerly dubbed America Needs More Family Doctors: 25 x 2030 Student Choice Collaborative, enjoys strong support from the eight FMAHealth founding organizations: The AAFP, AAFP Foundation, American Board of Family Medicine, American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, Association of Departments of Family Medicine, Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, North American Primary Care Research Group and Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM).

All of the founders champion the initiative's goal to increase the percentage of combined U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical students choosing family medicine to 25 percent by the year 2030. And they recognize that it's an ambitious undertaking given that currently less than 13 percent of graduates choose the specialty each year.

Story Highlights
  • An article in the February issue of Family Medicine summarizes the work and outcomes of the Family Medicine for America's Health Workforce Education & Development Tactic Team.
  • The tactic team, formed in 2014 and sunsetted in 2017, developed and passed on to a new steering committee key concepts to help build a larger, more diverse U.S. primary care workforce.
  • A notable team outcome is the America Needs More Family Doctors: 25 x 2030 collaborative, which aims to increase the percentage of medical students choosing family medicine to 25 percent by 2030.  

The article's corresponding author, family physician Christina Kelly, M.D., chaired the workforce tactic team, which sunsetted in December 2017. She currently serves as residency faculty at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, N.C., and is an assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

In an interview with AAFP News, Kelly talked about the efforts of the workforce tactic team and the necessary next steps to put the initiative's various facets over the finish line in the years ahead. The following Q&A captures that conversation.

Q. Yours was one of seven teams created by the FMAHealth Board of Directors. How did the board outline your assignment?

A. Our team was charged with three tactics. The first was to improve the evaluation of the full continuum of family medicine education to include and meet the standards of the "entrustable professional activity" concept, which allows faculty to make competency-based determinations of the skills trainees have learned and can be entrusted to perform as they progress to the next level.

We also were asked to increase medical students' choice of family medicine through multiple strategies, including enhanced resident and faculty mentorship. A specific emphasis was placed on building a diverse workforce that addresses health disparities.

Lastly, we were charged with increasing the strength, impact and prosperity of family medicine departments and residency programs through recruitment, development and retention of faculty and preceptors, and to provide support to enhance their value in their communities and institutions.

Q. Who was included in your tactic team?

A. We had a wonderful team that was full of amazing leaders and family medicine advocates. I am very appreciative to everyone who contributed to our work. Our team infrastructure incorporated three subgroups, identified as core team members, five tactic project teams, and a student and resident collaborative.

I would like to commend the leadership, creative ideas and dedication offered by the almost 45 students and residents who significantly contributed to the team's success.

Q. How was the 25 x 2030 initiative selected as a major goal?

A. Our team initially was charged with the three tactics already mentioned. But when we found our timeline accelerated by two years, we shifted our efforts to focus on increasing student choice of family medicine.

Our tactic team proposed the concept of this shared aim to the eight family medicine sponsoring organizations, and after approval by each of their boards, the 25 x 2030 initiative was developed as a collaborative effort. Having a shared aim allowed for the alignment of current programs and created opportunities for us all to significantly impact our family medicine match rate.

Q. What work needs to be done to achieve this shared goal?

A. The 25 x 2030 initiative will continue on through the collective impact of the eight founding organizations and the leadership of the AAFP. Our tactic team developed key concepts for the new steering committee to consider as it moves forward. We suggested the committee

  • develop an approach that centers on younger generations and can adapt to future generations of students who are not yet in medical school;
  • involve a diverse group of students, residents and early-career physicians to incorporate their viewpoints and to utilize their ability to lead and impact change;
  • build and diversify the family medicine workforce simultaneously;
  • preserve the full scope of family medicine; and
  • partner with key stakeholders outside of family medicine.

Q. What other major projects did the workforce team discuss?

A. Our team, with the assistance of the FMAHealth Board, developed entrustable professional activities for family medicine to describe the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors that each resident should acquire by the completion of residency to show he or she is a competent family physician. These activities were vetted and approved by the eight sponsoring organizations.

In addition, our tactic team's charge to identify, develop and disseminate resources for community preceptors was taken on by STFM which, in turn, spearheaded a preceptor summit in 2016. STFM currently leads the Preceptor Expansion Initiative(stfm.org) that aims to address the shortage of high-quality clinical training sites for medical students.

Q. The work you have described involved a lot of time and effort by many people. How can family physicians across the country get involved?

A. We all can play a role in building and diversifying the family medicine workforce by acting as role models, mentors, high-quality preceptors and educators for medical students and residents.

Taking that even further, as family physicians, we should encourage students of all ages -- grade school through college -- to consider a career in family medicine.

Q. As the work of FMAHealth winds down, what happens next?

A. Even though our tactic team sunsetted more than year ago, our initiatives and recommendations have been reviewed by the sponsoring organizations and dispersed among them as appropriate.

Our tactic team took significant first steps, but the work is far from complete. Top priorities moving forward include increasing the number of family medicine residency slots and recruiting, developing and retaining the faculty necessary to provide these future family physicians with the best education possible.

Related AAFP News Coverage
What Factors Hook Medical Students on Family Medicine?
AAFP National Survey Sorts Out Answers

(2/26/2019)

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