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Bright Light: Christopher Morley, PhD

STFM Member Christopher P. Morley, PhD, is chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, vice chair of Research in the Department of Family Medicine, and associate professor of Public Health, Family Medicine, and Psychiatry at S.U.N.Y. Upstate Medical University.

Sequential Serendipity

by Christopher Morley, PhD

I attended my first STFM meeting in 2008 when the Conference on Medical Student Education was held in Portland, Oregon and my first Annual Meeting the next spring. I have been a regular attendee ever since.

I have found STFM to be a key avenue for professional development. It is an open organization that welcomes participation in both group activities and governance. Unofficially, STFM is where I have met some of the best education and research collaborators–and some of my best friends. Although many seminars and presentations have stemmed from these collaborations, and various opportunities have resulted from my membership and participation, two things stand out that warrant mention.

In 2013, I had the opportunity to spend a week at one of the largest and best family medicine departments in the country (University of Colorado – Anschutz), funded by the STFM Foundation. The connections and experiences were unforgettable and career changing. Later that year, I was appointed as the second editor-in-chief of the STFM Resource Library and transformed the peer-reviewed section of that resource into a new peer-reviewed journal, PRiMER, supported by STFM and the colleagues, collaborators, and friends I have made through STFM.

A key component of the health of the primary care workforce occurs in education and training, as learners make crucial career decisions. STFM has been at the forefront of this conversation, as the host of the Family Medicine and PRiMER journals, as the developer of auspicious conference content, and as a participant in advocacy at the national level. STFM is an important part of the defense of the US family medicine pipeline. 

STFM is also important as a medium for idea exchange pertaining to primary care education and training. STFM is focused on family medicine, but not so focused that other specialties, levels of training, and a host of non-physician scholars can't feel welcomed and embraced. As a social scientist dedicated to primary care, public health, and related areas, I can personally attest to feeling welcome both in terms of my ideas and myself.

Finally, STFM is important because I see its effect on colleagues and learners whom I have encouraged. The impact I described previously has been replicated for others, countless times. I hold the career development of others as vital, and STFM helps me, and many like me, help others develop as professionals and as people.

Paying it Forward

I benefited from an STFM Foundation award in 2013 and have been motivated to pay it forward far beyond this one instance of personal benefit. The STFM Foundation has made much of my experience with STFM possible.

I can't imagine what my professional life would be like if I had not stumbled into that first meeting in 2008. STFM has been professionally rewarding in terms of opportunities and development and personally rewarding as the context for many important friendships. I have seen these benefits for others as well. I must add that the STFM staff has always been fantastic. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and I contribute with the staff in mind.

To transform the future of academic family medicine by donating to the STFM Foundation, contact Mindy Householder at 800.274.7928 or

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To learn more or to support the STFM Foundation, click the button below, or contact Mindy Householder at or 800.274.7928.

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