Medical students receive award for community service

MU’s Family Medicine Interest Group received a national award for their community service.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recognized MU’s Family Medicine Interest Group with an award for outstanding community service.

FMIGs are student organizations sponsored by medical schools that seek to increase awareness and student interest in the field of family medicine.

Each year, AAFP recognizes FMIGs from around the country with Program of Excellence Awards. A total of 16 groups were recognized this year for overall excellence, group operation, promoting the value of primary care, exposing family medicine and family physicians, professional development, improvement and community service.

Wendy Biggs, Assistant Division Director of Medical Education for AAFP, said the community service conducted by MU’s group stood out from other applicants.

“One FMIG might do one service project whereas Mizzou does a couple different things and they serve different populations,” she said. “They actually even elect a service chair. That was something that some other FMIGs don’t do and so it was an interesting thing to us.”

Resident Liaison Amanda Shipp, who served as co-chair of MU’s FMIG last year, identified community service as one of the group’s strongest endeavors.

“I feel like we have a lot of service-oriented members and our community in Columbia really fosters activism and service, and that’s something that we were able to work with and build upon,” she said.

Since 2007, FMIG members have been conducting health screenings at the Salvation Army Harbor House. Members screen participants for blood pressure and glucose, as well as educate them about smoking and other lifestyle choices.

What began as a one-time event has become a devoted partnership between the FMIG and Harbor House. Last year the group participated in four screenings.

Shipp said in addition to helping participants, group members benefit from the service as well.

“It’s more hands-on experience with the patients that you aren’t getting in a lecture,” she said. “And it’s also a different group of patients than would be in the clinic or hospital, patients who may have trouble accessing medical care.”

Another program that has been conducted by FMIG members over the years is Tar Wars, a smoking prevention program for elementary students. Last year members presented to fourth and fifth grade students at Russell Elementary.

MU’s FMIG added new service projects last year. Five members shaved their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer research and the group sponsored a bone marrow drive. Members also prepared dinner at the Ronald McDonald House.

“That is different from other service we do because you’re not actually seeing the people we’re serving,” third-year medical student Bridget Gruender said. “It’s more of a support-type service for families who may have been in the hospital all day with a sick child.”

In addition to community service, MU FMIG’s goals are to inform members about careers in community service, connect students to physicians and each other, provide leadership opportunities, and inform members about issues affecting family medicine. MU FMIG conducts dinner forums, brown bag lunches and workshops with faculty and community physicians, as well as attending AAFP conferences to meet these goals.

“FMIG has really helped me hone my interests in family medicine through lectures and activities,” Shipp said. “There’s so much you can do with family medicine, so I got to explore all the options.”

About a third of MU medical students participate in FMIG. Shipp attributed the size to MU’s strong family medical program, which is ranked ninth in the country by US News & World Report.

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