March 29, 2021, 3:04 p.m. David Mitchell — When Amanda Stisher, M.D., was a little girl, her mother worked as a scheduler in a gynecologic oncology practice. The physicians in that Birmingham, Ala., practice made a lasting impression on Stisher when she visited her mom at work.
“When I was 4, I told my mom, ‘I’m going to be a doctor and be your boss when I grow up,’” Stisher said. “I enjoyed being around the doctors, and that’s how I got interested in the medical field. I saw how much doctors were able to help people.”
Those doctors provided some of Stisher’s first shadowing experiences while she was in high school. She later shadowed pediatricians and family physicians as an undergraduate.
“I enjoyed everything I saw,” she said, “so I knew family medicine and its broad scope was the specialty for me.”
Some people discouraged Stisher from pursuing family medicine during her first year of medical school, but a trip to the AAFP’s National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students that summer solidified her specialty choice.
“I was torn between family medicine and OB,” she said. “I had people at med school tell me, ‘OB is a dying art in family medicine. You’ll never be able to do it.’ But after talking to program directors at National Conference, I realized OB in family medicine is still alive and real, and people are doing it every day. I knew I would be able to see kids and adults, do OB and all the other things I enjoyed, too. I was able to meet people who are doing what I wanted to do, and I was inspired to continue pursuing my dream.”
Stisher will finish her residency training next year and plans to apply for an OB fellowship in the fall. As resident chair of National Conference, she hopes to help other students find their career paths.
“I hope students can have the same experience I had,” she said. “Anyone that is coming in and questioning whether family medicine is the right specialty for them, I’m hoping they will see the breadth of things you can do in family medicine. You can receive extra training in sports medicine, OB, geriatrics, palliative care, academic medicine. It’s such a wide scope. Whatever your interests are, you can do it in family medicine.”
The pandemic forced National Conference to a virtual format last year, and the student and resident congresses were canceled. This year’s event will again be virtual, but the congresses are back on the agenda for the July 29-31 event.
“I’m excited about bringing that back,” Stisher said. “It’s something students and residents missed last year. It’s one of most important parts of National Conference because that’s our way to ensure that the voices of students and residents are being heard.”
Stisher said she and her husband, fellow University of Alabama Medical Center - Huntsville Family Medicine resident Chandler Stisher, M.D., M.P.H., ultimately would like to land in an academic setting, teaching and practicing full-scope family medicine. She also hopes to stay active in family medicine leadership.
Stisher is the resident member of the AAFP Commission on Education and previously served on that commission and the Commission on Continuing Professional Development as a student. She also has served as a student delegate to the Academy’s Congress of Delegates and has completed the AAFP Foundation’s Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute program.
“That’s something we’re both passionate about,” Stisher said. “You see unique perspectives being involved in national advocacy. I love hearing other perspectives from people around the country and the problems they’re facing. It’s something I definitely want to continue to be part of after graduation.”