Family physician mentors such as Samuel Church who holds the key to recruitment. When medical students come to visit, Church never tells them how much he adores to practice family medicine here in Hiawassee, a rural community tucked in the mountains of North Georgia. Instead, he invites them in as he opens his life up as just an ordinary family doc in the small town. The students see the great impact that a family physician has on the community as well as his unmatched joy as he serves the local community. He has a great passion for his specialty and this is what has attracted most medical students into the world of family medicine.

Catching the passion

Smith, a medical student in her third year at Georgia Regents University in Athens learned that she would be going to Hiawassee during her six week rotation as a family medical student. Being sent there is something that didn’t make her happy at all as she narrated to AAFP News. She even questioned the wisdom of her clerkship director sending her there. Her main worry is that she will find critical care medicine less rewarding than she has always thought and it turns out that she wasn’t wrong. The teaching style employed by Church is what Smith credits to have completely changed her opinion on this.

Church will never force any of the students on it and he simply turns over the patients to you and as you walk in, you find them as your patients. Smith said that this was the first time she felt the autonomy and responsibility. She was incredibly joyful as she partnered with the patients to create health care plans around the diagnoses she come to with church offering his affirmation and oversight as well as correction whenever it was needed.

Watching the magic

In early June, AAFP News planned a trip to Hiawassee in order to watch Church as he unravels the magic upon his students, medical team members and patients. For Brett Magner, the six weeks training she undertook under Church was very crucial in his decision of pursuing family medicine. In an email, Magner said that Church is a role model and a community advocate.

Keeping it relevant

According to Susanne Lester, lots of misconception actually exists as to what is done in family medicine and the truth of the matter is that it is more than what the students realize. She said that Church was just an incredible role model and is the best trainer for students planning to pursue primary care. He teaches his students that practicing family medicine is in itself a hard job but at the same time very rewarding as well.