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STFM Announces Plenary Speakers for the 2014 Annual Spring Conference

January 15, 2014The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine has announced speakers for its general sessions at the upcoming Annual Spring Conference, held May 3-7 in San Antonio, TX. 

Robert Ferrer, MD, MPH, vice chair for research at the University of Texas HSC at San Antonio, will open the conference. In his talk, “Building a Healthy ‘Commons’ to Prevent Illness and Reduce Disparities,” Dr Ferrer will share how San Antonio, a city he describes as a regular on the “fattest city” lists, radically improved its citizens’ health in the past decade by undergoing infrastructure and landscape changes to expand opportunities for healthy patterns of diet and activity. He will explain how the change began when health problems were reframed from an issue of personal responsibility to the issue of city design, policies, and infrastructure. Dr Ferrer will call on health care professionals to re-embed healthy opportunities in everyday life and to provide healthy commons through changes in policy, systems, and environment.

Dr Ferrer’s research interests include primary care transformation and quality improvement, social determinants of health, and applications of complexity science to health and health care. He has been principal investigator on grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as other federal, state, and local funders. He is active in several community health initiatives, having served as chair of the leadership team for San Antonio’s “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” grant from the CDC, and currently is on the executive committee of the Mayor’s Fitness Council and a board member of the Bexar County Health Collaborative for its Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan. He continues to teach full-scope family medicine in the Bexar County health system

On day two, the STFM Foundation’s Blanchard Memorial Lecturer, Denise Rodgers, MD, will discuss change management and share her insights and reflections on how she used it to guide her process of merging seven of eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. 

“Dr Rodgers is dynamic and thought-provoking and will share how managing change is an important skill for all family physicians. She will reflect on how her training as a family physician has prepared her for her leadership role,” said Joan Morrill, chief development officer of the STFM Foundation. 

Dr Rodgers serves as vice chancellor for interprofessional programs in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. She is also the Hunterdon Chair in Interprofessional Education at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where she is a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Dr Rodgers was also named the founding director of the Rutgers Urban Health and Wellness Institute. Prior to these appointments, Dr Rodgers served as the fifth and final president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Dr Rodgers has devoted much of her career to advancing primary care and addressing health disparities among minority and underserved populations and communities. 

During the conference’s Research Day, Steven Woolf, MD, MPH, will share key panel findings from the 2013 report: US Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health conducted by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. Dr Woolf served as study panel chair and coauthor of the report.

In his presentation, “The US Health Disadvantage: What Family Physicians Can Do About It,” Dr Woolf will explain the panel’s analysis of the US health disadvantage. He will highlight the three important roles that family physicians play in addressing the US health disadvantage: being mindful of social determinants of health in the one-on-one care of individual patients, becoming active in their communities to address policies outside the clinic that shape health outcomes, working through family medicine organizations to advocate national and state policies to improve public health, and how teaching these skills should become a core component of education in medical school, family medicine residency training, and lifelong learning.

Dr Woolf is director of the Center on Human Needs and professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University. His career has focused on promoting the most effective health care services and on advocating the importance of health promotion and disease prevention. A prolific author, he has published more than 150 articles and has tried to bring this message to policymakers and to the public through testimony in Congress, editorials in major newspapers, web-based tools, and speeches. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2001. He served as science advisor, member, and senior advisor to the US Preventive Services Task Force. He is associate editor of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 

In the closing general session “Health Equity: Intention and Success,” Winston Wong, MD, MS, medical director of community benefit and director of disparities improvement and quality initiatives at Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA, will share how focusing on issues of equity first will make progress in closing the gap of health disparities, “If you examine what have been successful campaigns in achieving equitable health outcomes, they share common elements of broad outreach and messaging that resonates with diverse audiences, and the removal of linguistic, financial, and cultural barriers that undermine access,” he explains.

Dr Wong says he sees most attempts to address equity as an afterthought rather than the foundation for health care systems innovation and planning, resulting in minimal success in closing the gap. He hopes that after his talk policy and health care innovators will see solutions to the disparities gap as a foundational change to focus on equity, rather than a quick fix band-aid change to procedures.

At Kaiser Permanente, Dr Wong is responsible for the organization’s partnerships with communities and institutions in advancing population management and evidence-based medicine, with particular emphasis on safety net providers and the elimination of health disparities. He currently serves on a number of national advisory committees, including those sponsored by the National Quality Forum, CMS, and the Institute of Medicine, addressing issues of access and quality for diverse populations, most recently as a member of the IOM Committee on the Integration of Primary Care and Public Health. He was recently appointed to the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. He was featured as a “Face of Public Health” in the May 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The STFM Annual Spring Conference is the nation’s most energized networking forum for family medicine educators, with nearly 400 educational and interactive seminars, lecture-discussions, papers, and poster presentations. More information can be found about the conference and the speakers at

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