STUDENT FAMILY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
VCU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Family Medicine: Diversity in Experiences, Interests, and Thought
10th Annual Clancy A. Holland Lecture
table of contents
Brooke Hess, M2
Developing an Anti-Racism Framework for Family Medicine
Tiffany Tsay, M2
Judy Gary, SFMA Advisor
Meet the 2020-2021
SFMA Executive Board
Reflecting on More Than 30 Years in Family Medicine Education
My Time in Rural Medicine
SFMA is the Student Family Medicine Association at VCU. The SFMA is a student chapter associated with state and national organizations of family physicians known as the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Virginia Academy of Family Physicians. We offer workshops, lunch lectures, and volunteer clinical experiences to foster and support an interest in Family Medicine.
To learn more, visit the SFMA website.
10th Annual Holland Lecture: Developing an Anti-Racism Framework for Family Medicine
Motivational Interviewing Workshop
Everyday Family Medicine
Everyday Family Medicine is a podcast hosted by Dr. Jennifer Caudle that explores practical and relevant topics in primary care ranging from providing nonjudgmental care to LGBTQ populations to how to combat seasonal allergies to addressing obesity during an office visit.
Family Medicine Education Consortium Podcasts. This podcast series spotlights innovations in primary care, introduces important clinical issues, and features interviews with physicians from diverse practice settings.
As the population ages, a shortage of primary care doctors is expected
SFMA co-presidents Caitlyn Syptak and Sarah Beaverson are interviewed in this piece on efforts at VCU to expose students to primary care!
VCU Student Family Medicine Association receives AAFP Program of Excellence Award
SFMA is one of just five family medicine interest groups in the country to have won the overall award 10+ times.
in the News
What We're Listening To
eing from a small town myself, I’ve always told people just that – I’m from a small town in North Carolina. About 99% of the time, this is a satisfying answer. However, I’ve found people from a small town want to know exactly which small town you hail from. One of my first patients in Louisa, Virginia knew exactly where my small town was and even mentioned a restaurant by name. Every time I told a patient that I was interested in working in a small community, their face lit up. Some of the patients even went as far to offer Louisa as a suggestion for my future residence. Another patient I had seen twice excitedly asked during her follow up visit if I was now working at the clinic. I enjoyed the continuity of seeing the same patients and the variety of cases that challenged and expanded my knowledge.
While the sense of community filled me with positivity, some of the patients I saw reminded me of the challenges and barriers of those seeking care in rural areas. Being physically distant from specialty care and the stigma of seeking help keep many individuals from accessing healthcare until much later. Even more so, rural towns face the same social and structural inequalities as big cities, such as housing, environmental, and racial injustice.
Despite the barriers, I know that rural communities have an inherit strength that can be built upon. Recognizing the strengths of small communities is not ignoring their shortcomings or problematic histories, but instead signaling that they are worthy of investment and growth. This idea is the backbone of why I am so passionate about rural health and why I think more future physicians should get excited too.
Brooke Hess is an M2 at VCU School of Medicine who recently finished her preceptorship at Louisa Family Practice in Louisa, VA with Dr. Rex Harkrader.
Stay tuned for upcoming events!
community service activities
ow SFMA, what a year 2020 has been! This past has been full of surprises to say the least but your continued interest in our programming has made it possible for us to continue our mission of showcasing the wide breadth of family medicine and the wealth of experiences available through the specialty. And because of our student body's continued passion and dedication, SFMA was awarded the AAFP Overall Program of Excellence Award for the tenth time this year!
Here we feature a brief recap of activities from the past year. If you missed any of these opportunities or have ideas for future programming, please do not hesitate to reach out to your 2020-2021 executive board (meet the new team on page 10)!
Lunch Lectures and Career Planning
We started the year with an exploration of rural medicine with Dr. Sandra Balmoria.
This was followed by a collaboration with MedPride, featuring two providers from the Transgender Health Alliance of Central Virginia, who spoke on how we, as future healthcare providers, can better support our trans patients.
At the end of January, over 20 SFMA members attended the VAFP Wintergreen Conference where we heard from FM residents on a residency panel, participated in a dedicated clinical skills workshop for students, listened to research presentations from FM residents, and joined numerous CME sessions on topics such as direct primary care, geriatric and palliative care, and obesity management. Several of our students even managed to hit the slopes at Wintergreen after a full day of conference activities!
In February, Dr. Denise Parsons spoke to us about her experiences caring for incarcerated patients, how she decided to work in prison settings, and the healthcare disparities incarcerated patients face.
Later that month, we also hosted a family medicine preceptor dinner social where our students had the opportunity to network with family physicians and learn about the various practice models they practice in.
In July, with support from the FM department, more than 25 students attended the AAFP National Conference where M4s had the opportunity to network with residency programs. This year's virtual format also made it possible for many more M2s and M3s to take advantage of the conference's programming.
This fall, as we learned to transition to a virtual Zoom environment, we hosted our annual Breadth of Medicine, Depth of Values panel, our first-ever Wide World of Sports panel, and discussions on telemedicine and MAT therapy.
In September, we hosted a newly developed workshop on implicit bias in collaboration with MHP, LMSA, and APAMSA. We also featured several other workshops back by popular demand such as casting, obstetrics, and motivational interviewing.
Despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench in some of our ongoing community service opportunities, SFMA members mentored VCU pre-meds as part of our mentorship program this past spring and we launched a new partnership with FeedMore this fall. In addition, several of our SFMA members were able to create a COVID Gratitude Video for our VCU family medicine team at the start of the pandemic.
unique contributors to SFMA Pulse issues
2019-2020 SFMA Year-in-Review
The parallels and joys
Miranda Chimzar, M3
fter teaching elementary students for four years, I went to UVA to pursue a graduate degree in education and counseling. In 1988 my grad school mentor suggested that I go chat with one of his former advisees “in Family Medicine at MCV.” I didn’t know then that there was a position for which I was being considered. That visit shaped the rest of my career.
At that time, our Family Medicine department’s only presence was the Student Family Practice Association (SFPA, later SFMA) and a 4 week community medicine rotation. I was hired to coordinate a new medical student experience – 8 small group sessions and a 4 day preceptorship which required recruiting practices and placing students all over the Commonwealth. I did that for about two years and then life took me back to Charlottesville.
In 1992, I returned to Richmond and was rehired to coordinate the new Family Medicine academic fellowship which I did for 4 yrs. I subsequently had a number of different roles and responsibilities in our department including PCM (formerly FCM) and coordination of our M3 clerkship. For the last 10 years my primary roles have been SFMA advisor, faculty development, fmSTAT director, and assistant director of our medical education team.
My enduring career intention is to blend my interest and skills in counseling, education and program development together in service to others. I’ve been lucky enough to do that. It’s been a great ride because I’ve had the opportunity to reshape things over the years to enjoy a variety of roles while remaining in a place where I believe in the mission and feel a sense of shared values.
When I first started here, I was in my late 20’s, the same age as some of our medical students. Now my own children are the same ages as our students. Based on my own personal experiences, I feel committed to “being there” for people as they find the path most suited to them — the one that fits their personal values — and to remind students that there is often more than one good path. Even more important, is understanding that there are twists and turns along the way AND opportunities to forge your own path. Sometimes it’s just about taking the next best step.
I understand well the aims, value and challenges of Family Medicine. I’ve partnered with family doctors in the care of my elderly parents. I know, first-hand the essential role and the systemic factors that can interfere with providing care. I’ve struggled to help my adult child find a family physician with whom she can establish care. As a patient, I’ve had the benefit of two valued relationships with family physicians, both ended when my doctors moved. Those were trusted and personal relationships, something that’s not easy to replace. Between and since, I’ve sought to re-establish a relationship with a new family doctor. Despite being well connected through my work, finding that is no easy task. The need for family physicians is real and not just in rural areas.
One of my mentors showed me parallels between education and medicine – how needs assessment with learners was similar to taking a chief complaint, how methods were parallel to treatment, etc. I’ve noticed other parallels that speak to the values of the work I do. Family Medicine focuses on longitudinal relationships, continuity of care, managing complexity, etc. It’s gratifying to developing enduring relationships by supporting students as they navigate the challenges of training. And there’s a real joy in witnessing our learners become our teachers, colleagues, and mentors.
Working with great and inspiring colleagues
Meeting 1:1 or in small groups with students and faculty to dream up programming ideas
Getting photos (travel, weddings, socials, awards…) from students and alumni to put on my office door.
Opportunities to teach, facilitate and network
Offering support or connecting students in need to resources
Nurturing students who I would ultimately like to take care of me, my family, and refer to friends.
My path to FM
Pass it on
Reflecting on More than 30 Years in Family Medicine Education
I'm one of the lucky ones. It's been a great ride.
As someone who was fairly certain of pursuing a career in family medicine prior to attending medical school, I’ve probably answered the “why FM” question a countless number of times.
I’ve definitely been guilty of answering with your typical “I want to build long-term relationships with patients” but as I reflect on my medical school journey thus far, I have realized I continue to be drawn to FM because of the diversity of the specialty. Diversity in experiences among our role models and diversity in career interests among peers who are also interested in FM.
Women’s health. Sports medicine. Mental health. Geriatrics. Just to name a few of the interests my peers have.
I have realized that family medicine truly is a unique specialty that allows you to shape your practice based on your goals and interests. We have learned from family physicians who deliver babies, perform endoscopies, provide medical sideline coverage for sports teams, and speak out against injustices in our healthcare system. And while each of them may practice through a unique lens, the core FM values of providing continuing, comprehensive, compassionate, and personal care are the common thread that unifies the practice of FM.
Even 18 months into my medical school journey, it still amazes me that as soon as we are adorned with the title of "medical student", a certain level of trust is placed in us that allows us to have privileged encounters with patients. Patients allow us to ask intrusive personal questions and perform uncomfortable physical exams. We see patients in their most vulnerable state because they trust that we are learning to care for their health. As aspiring physicians, how do we ensure that we are learning to provide the best care possible in these encounters?
I'd like to believe that exposure to thought diversity is one key element. And learning alongside my FM-interested peers in medical school is doing just that.
In helping curate our monthly Pulse issues, I have had the opportunity to read my peers’ reflections on different aspects of FM that speak out to them most. They have challenged me to think about why things are the way they are - they have stopped to reflect on the systematic biases that exist in our healthcare system, our “hidden” medical school curriculum, and the gaps that exist in public discourse. They have reminded me of the diversity in lived experiences we each have, contributing to different interpretations of events happening around us. They have helped me identify my blind spots and reflect on my implicit biases. They have helped me appreciate that each person's experiences, challenges, and choices have shaped their unique interests and passions.
For my peers I am grateful.
My interest in family medicine is no longer just about building long-term relationships with patients (continuing), it is about learning how to see each patient as a whole person (comprehensive) and to work within the social, economic, and cultural context in which they live to care for their health (personal). Learning to provide comprehensive and personal care is what, in my opinion, is helping me provide the most compassionate care possible in those privileged patient encounters I will continue to have in the years to come.
For this year's 10th annual Clancy A. Holland lecture, we had the opportunity to hear about anti-racism approaches in family medicine (FM) through a discussion with Dr. Tanya Anim, faculty member at the FSU Family Medicine Residency Program at Lee Health and Danielle Jones, MPH, Director of AAFP's Center for Diversity and Health Equity.
Dr. Anim discussed the historical context of race in medicine, current misconceptions about race within the medical community, and factors that have contributed to racial and ethnic disparities. She challenged each and every one of us to address racism at a systemic level - beginning with the first step of becoming anti-racist. She urged us to speak up in uncomfortable situations so that we can collectively become more aware of our implicit biases.
Following Dr. Anim's call to action, Ms. Jones discussed the AAFP's multi-pronged approach toward racial equity including initiatives in research, medical education, workforce diversification, faculty development, and clinical practice. Earlier this spring, AAFP issued a public statement condemning racism and officially asked the White House to declare racism as a public health emergency.
If you did not get a chance to attend this year's Holland lecture, you can tune in to the recording here. Thank you to the FM department for sponsoring this event!
Meet the 2020-2021 SFMA Leadership Team
Hometown: Mechanicsville, VA
Undergrad: University of Virginia
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Chocolate
Looking forward to collaborating with other SIGs and planning a diverse line-up of lectures and events for the year!
Community Service Coordinator
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Undergrad: VCU (go rams! x2)
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Earl Grey or Lavender
Looking forward to getting more involved in the community!
Community Service Coordinator Sports Medicine Coordinator
Hometown: Sterling, VA
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Coffee
Looking forward to organizing safe community engagement even in the face of COVID!
Hometown: Irvine, CA
Undergrad: UC Irvine
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Pistachio
Looking forward to getting to know everyone on the team and learning more about all the possibilities family medicine has to offer!
Program / Workshop Coordinator
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Undergrad: William & Mary
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Moose Tracks
Looking forward to working with/getting to know my fellow classmates who share an interest in family medicine!
Creative Editor of Pulse
Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip
Looking forward to meeting more inspiring physicians in the field!
Program / Workshop Coordinator
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Undergrad: Whitman College
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
Looking forward to working with other students who are also passionate about Family Medicine!
Program / Workshop Coordinator
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Undergrad: UC San Diego
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Mint Chocolate Chip
Looking forward to work with the leadership board to put on some awesome workshops for everyone!
is a medical student-run newsletter for archiving stories related to family medicine, showcasing inspiring role models, and embracing diversity of background and thought.
click to explore past editions
Victoria Ngo, M2
Tiffany Tsay, M2
Sarah Beaverson, M2
Caitlyn Syptak, M2
Judy Gary, M.Ed, advisor