Family Medicine Leadership Experience

Tags: FMLE, TAFP, family medicine leadership experience, mary nguyen, lindsay botsford, stuti nagpal, okwuwa

The third class of the Family Medicine Leadership Experience poses on the dais in one of many hearing rooms at the State Capitol at the end of a long day of advocacy training.

Learning to lead

By Jean Klewitz

You’ve finished your medical school and completed your residency program and now you find yourself stripped of your white coat and standing before a group of colleagues at a meeting. You’ve gained an abundance of knowledge in your medical training, but as you look around the room you come to a startling realization.

You didn’t take any leadership courses in medical school, yet you’re in a leadership role. Now what?

“We go to meetings, we sign up for meetings, we sit in meetings, but you’re never taught how to lead a meeting,” says TAFP member, Mary Nguyen, MD, of Castroville.

Not to worry, the Academy has what you need. TAFP has developed a leadership development program designed for new physicians, mid-career physicians, and residents. The year-long program is called the Family Medicine Leadership Experience. FMLE is intended to guide participants to become excellent leaders. The program offers four sessions throughout the year presented in interactive learning sessions, didactic lectures, case presentations, multimedia presentations, and small-group breakouts. FMLE enhances skills in strategic planning, persuasive communication, financial decision-making, negotiation, conflict resolution, and public speaking.

At the 2016 Annual Session, the inaugural FMLE class presented their final projects and graduated from the FMLE program. At our last annual session, the 2017 class graduated. While this free program is relatively new, it has already proven to be helpful to those who’ve attended.

One of the 2016 graduates, Ikemefuna “Ike” Okwuwa, MD, says it was one of the best decisions he’s made. “You meet like-minded people interested in leadership, you build lifelong relationships, and you get one-on-one time with TAFP/AAFP leadership.”

Stuti Nagpal, MD, who practices at UT Health San Antonio, says the networking training helped her connect and share in the everyday rewards and challenges of family medicine. “You realize, you’re not the only one,” she says.

The program was the brainchild of the Commission on Academic Affairs and TAFP physician leader, Lindsay Botsford, MD, of Sugar Land. She heard from family medicine residents that they wanted leadership training, so she took the idea to TAFP’s Leadership Development Committee. Members spent 2014 and 2015 crafting a longitudinal curriculum designed to enhance physicians’ knowledge, develop skills, and form relationships with other up-and-coming leaders. In 2016, TAFP’s Family Medicine Leadership Experience was launched.

Given the foundational role of primary care in high-functioning health care systems, TAFP believes family physicians should occupy as many leadership positions as possible. Those leaders should be capable of articulating a compelling vision for the future and be able to win the trust and support of others to carry out the vision. The FMLE program develops necessary skills that get physicians in front of the room, leading.

“So much of leadership is believing you can make a difference,” Botsford says. “The FMLE will give a physician enough training to take a bigger role in their practice, step up and say ‘yes’ when asked to be a leader.”

For more information and to apply for next year’s FMLE class, visit