By Jean Klewitz
As all members of TAFP are keenly aware, Texas and the nation suffer from a persistent shortage of primary care physicians. We need more family doctors. The Harris County Academy of Family Physicians is taking important steps to generate and cultivate interest in family medicine among medical students.
HCAFP met for their Second Annual Medical Student Roundtable on Wednesday, Feb. 3, to discuss the specialty of family medicine. Members welcomed students early in their education from Baylor and UT Houston to a swanky restaurant on the sixth floor of the John P. McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons Building for an evening of frank questions and enlightening discussion.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for students to be able to talk and ask any questions to family physicians in different practice settings,” says Dr. Puja Sehgal, TAFP member and Family/Occupational Medicine doctor at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. As HCAFP president, Sehgal moderated the seven-physician panel. The panelists represented academic medicine, multi-specialty group practice, solo practice, concierge medicine, international missionary work, and locums tenens. “We truly believe that hearing from family physicians about their own story provides motivation to choose this career and that the voices of professional satisfaction will inspire the next generation,” Sehgal says.
By hosting this event, chapter members hope to counter some of the negative messages medical students often hear from faculty, advisors, and their peers in academic health centers. “Medical students receive a great deal of misinformation regarding careers in family medicine,” says Leon Rochen, Executive Director of HCAFP.
Once the roundtable discussion was underway, students asked about income expectations, practicing in urban areas, and why physicians on the panel chose family medicine. Many of the physicians said family medicine was not their first choice. Several found themselves interested in multiple specialties, which they said made it difficult to choose just one. “I think a good reason to go into family medicine is if you want to keep your options open, if you want to particularly keep your geographic options open or your international options open, you truly can go anywhere,” Patrick Carter, MD, told the students. Carter is the Director of Quality Improvement, Managed Care, and Department Chief of Family Medicine at Kelsey Seybold Clinic. “The students chuckled when he made the analogy of family docs being the “Pluripotent stem cell of medicine” and the physicians agreed when Dr. Carter and Dr. Donald Nino of Channelview explained that with family medicine you don’t send somebody out of your office saying “that’s not my specialty.”
Many of the physicians in attendance recommended that students consider doing a preceptorship through the Texas Family Medicine Preceptorship Program. Several students shared that they had completed preceptorships and felt that the experience was helpful. Panelist Eric Lee, MD, Baylor Family Medicine faculty advisor, said that preceptorships are a great opportunity to see how family medicine is practiced and that the roundtable discussions are a great way for students to hear directly from family doctors.
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.
The 3rd Annual Medical Student Roundtable is scheduled for March 6, 2018 and HCAFP encourages other chapters to attend as their guests.
For more information on the Harris County Academy of Family Physicians Chapter, visit: www.hcafp.org
For more information on the Texas Family Medicine Preceptorship Program, visit: http://www.tafp.org/preceptorship