After More Than 30 Years, Education Is Still His Passion

April 08, 2019 10:05 am David Mitchell

Robin Winter, M.D., M.M.M., didn't need another job. He has been director of the JFK Medical Center Family Medicine Residency in Edison, N.J., for three decades, and he also serves as medical director for long-term care facilities in the JFK Health System.

[headshot of Robin Winter, M.D., M.M.M.]

But when JFK began discussing a merger with Hackensack Meridian Health -- which was planning to open the first new private medical school in New Jersey in 50 years -- Winter knew he wanted to be part of the new school.

"It seemed like a natural opportunity for me and the residency program to get involved as much as possible with the medical school and provide a strong family medicine presence," said Winter, who added the role of chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University to his already-hefty curriculum vitae in 2017.

In his newest role, Winter was able to participate in curriculum development and other important issues before the school opened last year.(www.northjersey.com) Three members of the JFK family medicine residency program's faculty teach at the medical school, which, like Winter, has emphasized the principles of primary care.

"The school has a very strong mission toward caring for the community, providing health care for all -- regardless of ability to pay -- and to help eliminate health disparities," he said.

Winter was honored April 6 with the Nikitas J. Zervanos Outstanding Program Director Award during the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors' (AFMRD) annual business meeting, which was held in conjunction with the Program Directors Workshop and Residency Program Solutions Symposium in Kansas City, Mo.

During Winter's time at JFK, the program has expanded from 21 residency slots to 24 and from five full-time faculty members to nine.

As a hospital-based program, JFK's family medicine residents are exposed to inpatient and outpatient care. The health system's three nursing homes -- and Winter's role as medical director -- ensure exposure to geriatric care, too. The program also has assembled a robust maternity care program, which, in turn, has helped build a large pediatric practice as part of this full-scope, comprehensive family medicine program. Winter said the women's health program, which includes a CenteringPregnancy group visit model for prenatal care,(www.centeringhealthcare.org) also has helped attract residents.

In addition, Winter has been a prolific researcher, with roughly three dozen papers published in peer-reviewed journals. He also has served in leadership roles at the local, state and national levels, including as AFMRD president in 2003-2004 and later as a member of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's Review Committee for Family Medicine.

"AFMRD gave me the opportunity to be involved at the national level," he said. "I wouldn't have gotten on the residency review committee without being active in AFMRD. My heart and soul still live with AFMRD."

That's understandable, considering that Winter has been a program director since 1985 and was an assistant program director for four years in his first job after completing his own training.

"It's held my interest all these years," he said. "Education is my passion. Teaching and practicing family medicine has honestly been a totally fulfilling career. When the medical school gave me the opportunity to expand that even more deeply to teaching medical students, it was a natural expansion."