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Yes We Can . . . and Did!

Deborah Taylor, PhD, BFEF Codirector, Central Maine Medical Center FMR, Lewiston, Maine

The Group on Behavioral Science (members totaling more than 300) has had an exciting and productive year (2009–2010). Our group’s 2009–2010 goal was to serve as the home for all residency and medical school family medicine educators who aspire to teach a biopsychosocial (including family, community, culture, and spiritual dimensions) model of health care. All of our measurable objectives were designed to move us closer to that BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal, that is). The most rewarding outcome was the development of an STFM Behavioral Science/Family Systems Educator Fellowship (BFEF), in collaboration with the leadership of the Group on the Family in Family Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine, sponsor of the Forum for Behavioral Science in Family Medicine. The design of this fellowship focuses on educational tracks within the STFM Annual Spring Conference and the Forum for Behavioral Science in Family Medicine, exposure to curriculum resource materials, and mentorship/support through a small-group format to faculty with newly defined roles (5 years or less experience) around teaching the behavioral science curriculum in family medicine residencies.

The BFEF Steering Committee included the elected leadership of the two STFM groups, the director of the Forum for Behavioral Science in Family Medicine, and a meta-mentor for our small-group mentors—all played a pivotal role in selecting fellows (26 applicants for 12 positions in Year 1), developing conference tracks and resource materials, making small-group assignments including the recruitment of small-group mentors, and establishing methods of measurement of efficacy and value. Year 1 of the fellowship was launched at the 2010 STFM Annual Spring Conference in Vancouver. There was a tremendous amount of excitement and enthusiasm among the first fellowship class, the “riper” educators who are serving as the inaugural small-group mentors, and the STFM leadership and general attendees at the conference. Many asked “How did you pull this off?” There is actually a fairly simple answer to this complex question—relationships, passion, cooperation, and collaboration. We so appreciate the support of the STFM Board of Directors and staff for believing in a new vision. At the risk of sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech, it is with great joy, appreciation, and fondness that I also get to publicly thank those who made this fellowship a reality:

BFEF Steering Committee: Victoria Gorski, MD, Group on Family cochair and Fellowship codirector; Dennis Butler, PhD, Forum for Behavioral Science Planning Committee chair; Bill Gunn, PhD, Group on Family cochair; Laurel Milberg, PhD, meta mentor; Amy Romain, MSW, Group on Behavioral Science cochair; and Julie Schirmer, MSW, Group on Behavioral Science cochair.

2010–2011 BFEF Small-group Mentors: John Cavacece, MD; Mike Floyd, EdD; Kate Neely, MD; Nancy Newman, MD; Valerie Ross, MSW; and Mary Talen, PhD.

This Fellowship has been approved by the STFM Board of Directors for a second fellowship class—call for applications will take place in the fall 2010.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

—Margaret Mead

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