Aaron J. Michelfelder, MD, grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado and moved to Illinois to attend Northwestern University. He then attended the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and completed a family medicine residency at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. He joined the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and Loyola University Medical Center as a faculty member in 2000. He later completed a fellowship in medical acupuncture and advanced training in medical hypnosis. He currently serves as Loyola’s chair of family medicine, co-director for Loyola’s Institute for Transformative Interprofessional Education, and is a professor of family medicine, bioethics & health policy, and medical education. His clinical practice includes general family medicine along with integrative medicine. His research interests are in practice transformation and the process of traveling from interprofessional education to collaborative practice. He is also interested in global health and has participated in 25 international medical and educational trips to 10 countries. But does that all really matter? What really matters is that he is eternally optimistic, idealistic, and enthusiastic!
It is such a humbling and tremendous honor to be nominated for president-elect of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, because for me, STFM is home. I have grown up in STFM, and am eternally grateful for the friendship, mentoring, and inspiration that all of you provide.
STFM is a powerful organization because of you! I believe we should further tap into our strengths to bolster our current efforts at addressing two issues:
- Increase the numbers of diverse, creative, innovative people choosing family medicine as a career. Achieving this by building on and bolstering the great work with medical students, while also encouraging more interest among students from nursing, psychology, social work, law, pharmacy, medical anthropology, information technology, sociology, biomedical engineering, library science, health administration, genetics and anyone who wants to join the ranks of all of us who provide family medicine care. The future of family medicine is a rapidly expanding group of interprofessional colleagues who all believe in improving health through teamwork and the family medicine model of care.
- Identify and address the issues of the educational and health systems that are leading to burnout, while helping build the resiliency skills that everyone in family medicine needs to lead long, happy and fulfilling careers and lives.
It is not possible to address #1 without addressing #2 and vice versa as they are integrally linked. Within STFM are the role models, the innovators, the teachers, and the researchers to help make these two happen! This group has been diligently working on these issues and can certainly go the next steps! We must inspire the next generation to join us and inspire the current generation to take action. We must work more with our colleague organizations to change the factors that impede our progress. As those who educate, we can further enhance our leadership of advocating for changes for our learners and professionals.
You are the most remarkable people I know, and it would be such an honor to serve you as president-elect. I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you better!
Answers to Candidate Questions
What actions does STFM need to take to move STFM toward the goal of being the indispensable professional home for all family medicine educators?
STFM is already the premier, world-class organization for family medicine education. As the clinical practice of family medicine ever evolves into more complex, team-based, and technologically based care, further enhancing the inclusion of a broad-base of interprofessional learners and colleagues will ensure the robust diversity of talents necessary to maintain this world-class standing. As a focus on physician training in family medicine remains important, elevating the inclusion of all the professions involved in family medicine care delivery will only enhance the relevance and strength of STFM.
Choose one or two key challenges you anticipate that STFM will face in the next 3 years and describe a potential course of action to address each challenge.
The health and well-being of everyone involved in family medicine care delivery is crucial to the health of the people we all serve. As educators within family medicine, we have an enormous opportunity to study the causes of moral distress, burnout and empathy fatigue along the entire spectrum of the careers of those serving in family medicine. Identifying the system issues leading to these concerns and taking bold stances while working to change the educational and health system factors identified will help propel STFM forward as leaders in ensuring lifelong career satisfaction in family medicine.
Related to issues of health and well-being is the pipeline of the excited, idealistic, and enthusiastic youth who are interested and those who do not yet know they are interested in serving in family medicine. They need fostering, mentorship and encouragement to make the choice to join us. This pipeline must be diverse in every way. Additionally, is the pipeline for family medicine leaders such as residency program directors, department chairs, deans, administrators and all those who lead the delivery of family medicine. These are no small tasks, but as family medicine educators, together, we are up to the challenge!
Share your experience at bringing people together with diverse agendas and finding common ground
It is critically important to ensure that at every table sits a diverse group of people, ideas, personality types, professions, and experience, and to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard, and their ideas are included. As a leader, fostering the dialogue and the flow of the conversation is so much more important than one’s own opinion. Through dialogue and inclusion comes innovation and change. My leadership style is servant as leader, in that my role is to help those around me become successful, and that is the only measure of my own success. That said, it’s also really important to have fun. Through laughter and relationships, comes common ground. This is what I have learned as a chair, an interprofessional institute co-director, and as a former assistant dean.