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STFM Presents 2017 Society Awards

May 15, 2017—Several individuals were recognized at the STFM Recognition and Awards Program on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at the STFM Annual Spring Conference in San Diego, CA. STFM congratulates the following award winners on their accomplishments and success. 

2017 Curtis G. Hames Research Award Winner—Mack Ruffin, MD, MPH 

Dr Ruffin began his academic career in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan where he advanced to the rank of tenured professor. He was the associate chair for Research for 12 years leading the department to the top 10 in research funding. He was the inaugural holder of the Dr Max and Buena Licheter Research Professorship in Family Medicine and was voted into the Michigan Research League of Excellence in 2014. In 2016, he joined Penn State College of Medicine as chair and professor of Family and Community Medicine. He now leads more than 100 faculty in 15 clinical sites, two residency programs, and two fellowships.

His research focus is cancer prevention via primary intervention strategies and early detection. He began his research funding with a KO7 Career Development Award from NCI focused on practice transformation in the early 1990s and since has had a series of RO1s focused on colorectal cancer prevention. He was a member of NCI Early Detection Research Network for colorectal cancer.  With support from the State of Michigan, he developed an interactive shared decision tool to help patients determine their preferred method of getting checked for colorectal cancer. He is the only family physician to hold a NCI Mid-Career Award for excellence in research and mentoring for 11 years.


2017 STFM Best Research Paper Award

Winning Paper: Practical Opportunities for Healthy Diet and Physical Activity: Relationship to Intentions, Behaviors, and Body Mass Index

Authors: Robert L. Ferrer, MD, MPH (pictured), Sandra K. Burge, PhD, Raymond F. Palmer, PhD, and Inez Cruz, PhD, MSW, The RRNeT Investigators

Diet and activity choices emerge from what people find feasible to do in their daily lives. When there are few opportunities, people often adjust their expectations downward. This study set out to a) confirm a method of measuring practical opportunities for healthy diet and physical activity, and b) evaluate the utility of this new tool to understand the contexts for people’s health behavior choices. The study  found that practical opportunities for healthy diet and physical activity are measurable and predict behavioral intentions, diet quality, activity minutes and body mass index. The findings underline the need to understand the complexity of people’s lives as part of promoting healthy behaviors. Assessing opportunities in health behavior management could lead to more effective, efficient and respectful interventions. 

Ann Fam Med. 2016 March-April;14(2):109-16. doi: 10.1370/afm.1886.

2017 STFM Advocate Award—Anne L. Kittendorf, MD

Dr Kittendorf, University of Michigan, has had a passion for advocacy since residency, when it became apparent that so many issues that affect health occur outside the clinic setting. She now knows these factors as “the social determinants of health”, but before she could apply this name or concept to the health of her patients, she realized there were so many issues she was not adequately prepared for despite her medical education. She learned quickly how poverty, education, resources, psychosocial support, environmental quality, and employment all affect the ability of her patients to improve their own health and quality of life. Early in her career, she was able to see first-hand how advocacy can affect health policy. This provided her a deeper understanding of how the medical system works, how it fails providers and patients alike, and how true change is implemented on both local and national levels.  

Because she had not had an adequate exposure to these topics during her training as a medical student and resident physician, she was determined to empower learners to understand how policy is created and implemented. She has created an Advocacy and Health Policy Curriculum within University of Michigan FMR that helps challenge assumptions that residents may have about the roles physicians have as leaders in crafting health related policy, as well as to foster their own idealism and sense of social justice. She empowers students and residents alike to think of themselves as advocates as they develop their own areas of clinical interest, and gives them a set of tools that they can rely upon in order to further develop these passions. 

2017 F. Marian Bishop Award—Peter Carek, MD, MS

Dr Carek is professor and chair in the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He was the director of the MUSC/Trident Family Medicine Residency Program from 1995 to 2012. He has served as chairman of the Resident Research Symposium Committee for South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium, board member and treasurer of the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, board member and president of the Annals of Family Medicine, Inc, and chair of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) Review Committee for Family Medicine. Currently, Dr Carek is the chair of the ACGME Council of Review Committee Chairs, a member of the ACGME Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and a member of the ACGME Common Program Requirements Phase 1 and Physician Well-Being Task Forces. 

He is a widely recognized author, and presenter. He has served as principal investigator on several Health Resources and Services Administration funded grants. He is associate editor for the Journal of Graduate Medical Education and serves as a reviewer for multiple journals. He was the recipient of the Parker J. Palmer “Courage to Teach” Award, the Nikitas J. Zervanos Outstanding Program Director Award, and the Family Practice Management Award for Practice Improvement. His areas of interest include graduate medical education, quality improvement in patient care and medical education, and sports medicine.


STFM Innovative Program Award—The Adolescent Health Initiative Adolescent Champion Model

The vision of the Michigan Medicine Adolescent Health Initiative is to transform the health care landscape to optimize adolescent and young adult health and well-being. AHI created the Adolescent Champion model, utilizing innovative approaches to teach faculty, residents and other health professionals to improve the quality of primary care services for adolescent patients.

The Champion Model is a structured, multi-pronged quality improvement intervention, specifically created to be implemented within a busy ambulatory care clinical site. Participating sites identify a multidisciplinary champion team to undergo training on adolescent-centered care, and that team delivers pre-packaged trainings to other staff and providers at their site, makes youth-friendly site changes, helps implement a standardized flow to confidentially screen adolescents for risky behaviors, and completes a quality improvement project regarding confidentiality practices. Sites that participated in the Champion model had significant changes in adolescent patient satisfaction with their care, and changes in provider and staff attitudes related to both organizational change and care of adolescents. So far 17 sites have participated in the Adolescent Champion model, with new sites from around the country engaging daily with the Adolescent Health Initiative for training and technical assistance around their care for adolescents and young adults

STFM Gold Humanism Award—Ronald Epstein, MD

Dr Epstein, the author of Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness and Humanity, is a family physician, teacher, researcher, and writer who has devoted his career to understanding the inner lives of clinicians and patients, and improving communication, quality, and resilience in health care. His groundbreaking research on mindful practice has led to innovative programs that promote mindfulness, communication, and self-awareness. These programs have inspired and helped a generation of physicians to practice more attentively, develop stronger relationships with patients, approach difficult decisions more mindfully, develop resilience to combat burnout, and be more present when patients need it the most.   

Dr Epstein directs the Center for Communication and Disparities Research and co-directs Mindful Practice Programs at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry where he is professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Oncology, and Medicine (Palliative Care). A graduate of Wesleyan University and Harvard Medical School, Dr Epstein is  recipient of numerous lifetime achievement awards relating to communication and humanism, a Fulbright  scholarship at the Institute for Health Studies in Barcelona and research fellowships at the University of  Sydney and the Brocher Institute in Geneva. He has published more than 250 articles and book chapters. He has been listed in “Best Doctors” by US News and World Report and others for the past 15 years.  He enjoys bicycling, cross-country skiing, cooking, and playing the harpsichord.

STFM Excellence in Education Award—Stephen Ratcliffe, MD, MSPH

Dr Ratcliffe became program director of the Lancaster General Hospital FMR in July 2002 succeeding Dr Nikitas Zervanos who founded the program in 1969 and served as director for 33 years. Previously, he maintained a continuity practice in a federally qualified health center in Salt Lake City, Utah for 20 years. From 1993 to 2002, he  also served as division chief and residency program director for Family Medicine at  the University of Utah. He has had a career long interest in maternal child health,  particularly in the area of low birth weight/prematurity prevention that he has been  able to sustain in his leadership roles at Lancaster General. He is the founder of  the Family Medicine Education Consortium IMPLICIT Network, a practice-based  Continuous Quality Improvement Network of family medicine residency programs  in the Eastern United States. 

He is an original contributor to the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics Course and taught in numerous courses over the past 25 years. He has been a regular presence on the faculty and as a course dIrector for the AAFP Family Centered Maternity Care Conference. He has served as the senior editor of the three editions of Family Medicine Obstetrics. He enjoys the terrific support he receives from all directions: Lancaster General Health, his leadership team, a talented and highly committed faculty, extraordinary residents and program/nursing staff, and very appreciative patients. He and his wife Anita have five wonderful adult children and a very special new granddaughter.

2017 Lynn and Joan Carmichael STFM Recognition Award Winner—Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH

Dr Kruse is dean and provost of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and CEO of SIU Healthcare, the SIU faculty practice plan. He is a tenured professor of family and community medicine and medical education and served as executive associate dean of SIU School of Medicine from 2013–2015. He joined SIU faculty in 1984 and has served the organization in many leadership roles over the years, including department chair and residency program director.  

He is a national advocate for innovation in medical education and the advancement of health care systems. His focus is to fulfill the Triple Aim + 1: medical education and health care that are more effective, efficient, equitable, and enjoyable for all. Dr Kruse embraces the rapid changes in technology and communication, in health care delivery, in medical education, and in biomedical research.  

Dr Kruse has held positions with many national organizations to represent primary care, graduate education, address quality issues, and advance the changing health care workforce. These include the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (president 2012–2013), Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, and the North American Primary Care Research Group. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Board of Family Medicine and for Family Medicine for America’s Health. He has served on the Council on Graduate Medical Education, the leading health care workforce policy body that advised Health and Human Services Secretaries Michael Leavitt and Kathleen Sebelius and the health care legislation authorizing committees of Congress.   

He and his wife, Lois, have three children. Dr Kruse enjoys golf, wine, trumpet, and humorous poetry. 

To learn more about all STFM awards and scholarships, visit

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Copyright 2018 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine