Six fourth-year medical students recently returned from the American Academy of Family Physicians’ national conference in Kansas City, and at least one of them will go back next year — Lizzy Wei McIntosh, who was elected student chair for the 2017 conference.
In addition to Lizzy, Upstate was represented by classmates Kristine Faulknham, Sarah Lopez, Caitlin Nicholson, Arie Rennert and Olivia Yost, and Heather Finn, MD, assistant professor of Family Medicine.
More than 1,300 medical students attended the three-day gathering that featured educational programs, research presentations and networking opportunities in family medicine.
As student chair for 2017, Lizzy will lead the main stage sessions and preside over the business sessions of the National Congress of Medical Students. Over the next eight months she’ll provide input into the theme, programming and special activities for the conference and promote it to medical students across the country.
Here are the Upstate students’ thoughts on the conference and their reasons for pursuing family medicine.
Kristine is from Cape Vincent. She graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (biology). Kristine recently received a $500 scholarship from the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, the state version of the AAFP.
“The conference was a great opportunity to meet people truly passionate about family medicine. In my experience the people in family medicine genuinely are loving what they are doing and have always been very passionate in teaching me. It also allowed me to communicate with many programs to help get a better feel about what programs to apply to. . . . I’m interested in family medicine because of the variety of patients and procedures that it will allow in an environment that allows me to function closely with the community. I was a part of the Rural Medicine Scholar Program and spent five months in two rural communities in Upstate New York.
Sarah is from Trinidad and Tobago. She graduated from Baylor University (biochemistry).
“It was reassuring to talk to program directors there about residency options because I could bring up any insecurities I might have about my application, and I had a program director right in front of me to talk it over with. I came into med school originally thinking about ophthalmology but over time I realized that primary care is a huge passion of mine and that there is such a shortage of primary care providers. I’m interested in mental healthcare as well and plan to incorporate it into my future practice as much as I can. What really draws me to family medicine is that it allows me to work with all populations, and pursue all my passions.”
Lizzy Wei McIntosh:
Lizzy is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (nuclear engineering). She’ll graduate from Upstate in May with an MD/MPH dual degree. Lizzy also serves on the AAFP Commission on Education that guides the organization’s educational activities, including those that concern students and residents.
“I believe that family medicine physicians are ideally situated to lead the way in health care reform for the country, and that we can start that process by getting involved as medical students. The National Conference plays an enormous part in inspiring students to choose family medicine and in encouraging student leadership at the local, regional, and national levels. . . . Family medicine isn’t glamorous, but it’s rewarding. I’ve met many providers who, 20-30 years later, still love what they’re doing.”
Caitlin is from Ithaca. She graduated from Dartmouth College (psychology).
“The conference highlight was the ‘point of care’ ultrasound workshop. As a med student you get to see others use ultrasound devices, but not use them so much yourself. Ultrasound is the stethoscope of the future. That’s what we’re being told. . . . I led the Family Medicine Student Organization (FMSO) here second year. I’m definitely going for family medicine, with an interest in sports medicine. I was at the Binghamton campus, and enjoyed the longitudinal approach, the continuity of care there (working with Martin Masarech, MD). You get to see all members of the family.”
Arie is from Bellmore, NY. He graduated from Binghamton University (biochemistry).
“This was my first time going to the national conference (any conference actually), and it was great! The expo hall of residency programs gave me a chance to ask residents and program directors what make their residency unique. . . . The conference reaffirmed my interest in family medicine, which I decided as my specialty choice because of the large impact I can have on a person’s or family’s life. By caring for someone over years, I can establish relationships and get a sense of their health goals and what I can do to help them achieve them. As a primary care physician, I want to be there to coordinate my patients’ care and be their advocate.”
Olivia is from Rochester. She graduated from Cornell University (Human Biology, Health and Society).
“The highlights were learning about new topics and hearing from the current AAFP president, Dr. Wanda Filer, about the importance of advocacy for your patients, whether at high policy levels or within clinical practice. It was great being in an atmosphere of people passionate about family medicine. At Upstate, typically there are only 10 to 20 of us in each class interested in pursuing family medicine, so it was exciting to be in a huge setting with many people who are excited about family medicine.
“I plan to do full spectrum family medicine and pursue further training in integrative medicine, which focuses on the patient as a whole, incorporating areas like nutrition, lifestyle and wellness. I also hope to work with underserved populations and make integrative medicine accessible to all.”