Thursday, February 23, 2012

FMEC = Kick Ass Family Medicine!

I have the privilege of serving on the board of the Family Medicine Education Consortium as a member-at-large.

Who is the FMEC?  Well, we're a not-for-profit corporation that incubates ideas, connects people, and catalyzes healthcare change in the NE region of the US.  Our website states that we...

  • Support programs and services that promote medical student interest in Family Medicine
  • Stimulate the recruitment and development of Family Medicine faculty
  • Facilitate relationships that lead to scholarly efforts relevant to Family Physicians
  • Create coalitions among those who wish to increase the number of Family Physicians in the U.S. 

We also sponsor an annual meeting where 1000+ people interested in FM, or affiliated with FM programs, gather to network, present curricular innovations, and share clinical research.  The meeting also includes the second-largest annual residency fair in the country.
Nearly 300 medical students attended our meeting last year.  In many medical schools, Family Medicine is marginalized.  Students considering FM careers are frequently told that they are "too smart" to be a family doc.  At the annual FMEC meeting, students experience FM's vibrancy.   Their career plans are often set or affirmed; two-thirds of the students who attend eventually match in Family Medicine, and the rest comment that they have an new appreciation for their Family Medicine colleagues.

Every medical student who attends the meeting does so for free, minus the cost of transportation.  FMEC provides scholarships to cover their hotel rooms, conference fees, and all meals.  The generosity of corporate and individual donors covers the cost of these scholarships.

If you've not heard of the FMEC before, I invite you to learn more about us at  We believe in KAFM - Kick ass Family Medicine!  

Perhaps you might come to our annual meeting (this year in Cleveland, Sept 28-30) to present, host a booth at the residency fair, or just bask in the spirit of KAFM.  Perhaps you, or the folks you work with/for, might even be interested in sponsoring a student (or 2 or 10...) and/or one of our initiatives.*

The ultimate goal of the FMEC is a simple one - to improve the health of the people we serve.  Family docs can't afford to not participate in determining the future of health care in this country.  

We have a critically important voice to add to the conversation, and organizations like the FMEC help to broadcast that voice loud and clear.  Interested in knowing more?  Please send me a direct message on Twitter: @SingingPenDrJen or leave a request for more info below.   (I sponsored 2 scholarships last year myself, for the record.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not so much singing lately

My immune system has apparently been challenged by the microbes in my new city, as I'm now recovering from the second of two viruses I have caught in the last three weeks.  The first was a standard cold, and the second has been bronchitis.

With my asthma, I can't sing much at all when I'm sick.  Even mild stuff like I've had this past month sets off bronchospastic coughing fits, making singing very difficult.

I love to sing - in the car, in church, on a stage - wherever and however I can.  To not be able to sing feels like a connection between my inner emotion and outer expression has been severed.  I feel muted in a way that nothing else can replace.

For this introvert, singing is a way that I can push outside of myself while not feeling too vulnerable. When I sing for an audience, I am either portraying a character or worshiping God.  Neither is ultimately about me; lyric, tune, and purpose provide a comfortable buffer.

Writing is a solitary activity; I create it alone, and it's most likely read by my audience alone.  Singing instantly connects me with other people.  I suppose that I unconsciously pursued these two rather different skills to provide for different internal needs.  The energy release from writing is quiet and self-satisfying, while the release from singing has a louder, more cathartic power.

I realized this week (in between coughing spells) that my career mimics these different dimensions, too.  I have solitary encounters with patients and families, and I teach and present in groups.  The balance of personal and public in academic medicine is a good fit for me.

I also realized that, after a year of blogging, I've barely commented on the "Singing" part of the "Pen of Doctor Jen."  So, I'll try to share more of that piece of me from time to time.

Just as soon as the "Singing" comes back, that is.