By Jean Klewitz
HCAFP met for their third annual medical student roundtable on Tuesday, March 6, to host an open discussion on family medicine. The mission of the discussion is to dispel myths about family medicine often heard by students in academia. Members welcomed 28 medical students for dinner at Houston’s Baba Yega restaurant. It was an evening of frank questions and enlightening conversation in which even salary amounts were openly discussed.
HCAFP President, Lindsay Botsford, MD, MBA, kicked off the presentation by telling the students that the goal was to break down barriers and “meet people who are actually doing family medicine.” Botsford moderated the nine-physician panel, which included physicians in academics, solo practice, and group practice. With the variety of careers represented on the panel, Botsford encouraged students to reach out after the discussion if they wanted a personal connection with someone who is practicing in a way they envision for themselves. Unable to represent the whole gamut of family medicine on the panel, Botsford said, “That’s the beauty of family medicine… we have so much diversity in what we do that we just couldn’t even represent it all here tonight.”
Once the roundtable discussion was underway, one student asked what the physicians on the panel wished they knew about private practice when they were medical students. “Learn the business part of medicine,” solo practice physician, Rebecca Hart, MD, said. “They didn’t teach us this in medical school, so if you see CME or a class on that topic, I would highly recommend that you sign up for that.”
Another student inquired about what it’s like to be in academics. Samuel Wang, MD, assistant director with the Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program at Physicians at Sugar Creek, answered: “If you’re going to be teaching, you have to be on the leading edge of medicine. You’re always learning. That’s one of the great things about family medicine, it’s a lifelong road of learning, which is exciting. It’s always fresh, there’s always something new to learn.”
A student interested in obstetrics questioned the future of full-scope family medicine in urban areas. “It seems like people keep telling me it’s a dying breed, it doesn’t exist. It seems like the vast majority have moved away from that,” said Jason Johnston, a student at UT Health at Houston. “People sway us away from that kind of training.”
The panel assured the students in the room that are still many doctors all over the country that practice full-scope family medicine, explaining that while it’s rare to find in a big city, it’s not a dying breed. Eric Lee, MD, with Baylor College of Medicine was met with applause when he said half of his residency class of eight still practice full-scope family medicine including inpatient care five years after completing their training.
Additionally, the students and the panel discussed telemedicine, fellowship opportunities, behavioral health training in residencies, and salary expectations.
The HCAFP Medical Student Roundtable is a perfect example of how local chapters of TAFP can and are working to inspire the next generation of family physicians by engaging medical schools and students. If your local chapter is doing something similar, be sure to let us know here at TAFP headquarters.