Future Faces of Family Medicine


The Future Faces of Family Medicine (FFFM) mentorship program began in 2010 as a partnership between the California Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (CAFP-F), a Sacramento CAFP chapter comprising two Family Medicine Residency programs (UC-Davis and Sutter), and Sac High School to address primary care workforce issues.  Today, three FFFM programs — Sutter Santa Rosa FM Residency; UC-Davis/Sutter Sacramento FM Residencies, Scripps-UCSD FM Residency — are actively engaged in high schools in California.

By targeting ambitious and motivated high school students, the FFFM program excites them about a career in primary care medicine early on and provides them with resources to pursue this career.  In the process, family medicine residents and their programs work together to design and implement this curriculum, fostering a sense of collaboration and pride about family medicine and primary care among residents who otherwise have little interaction.

Twenty high school students are taught by family medicine residents over a four-to-six-month period and enjoy opportunities to engage in stimulating conversation about primary care and family medicine, including experience hands-on learning workshops, get their ‘hands wet’ practicing suturing skills and physical exam techniques, shadow family medicine residents at a local clinic for the underserved, and become certified in CPR.  They are also be taught skills in professionalism and career development to enhance their future career goals.  High school students sharpen their leadership skills by working with their peers to develop a health presentation that they will then give to their health class.  The high school students are partnered with a practicing family physician who will serve as their longitudinal mentor over the next year, offering opportunities to discuss a career in medicine and shadow these primary care physicians in their clinics and the chance to build a relationship with someone who cares about them.  Mentors also benefit by receiving Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours for their volunteer time.  Students graduating from this program are followed to determine if this program plus the longitudinal mentorship component have indeed steered them down a primary care career pathway.

The Sacramento FFFM is the original and longest-running program. Residents from both UC Davis and Sutter Sacramento family medicine residency programs collaborated and developed the curriculum, which was eventually synthesized into the Future Faces of Family Medicine Toolkit. This is the guide new programs use as the foundation to build a similar program in their area of California. In general, FFFM classes include premedical school counseling, professionalism, basic physical exam, delivering a baby and a poster presentation/public health project. The students also shadow family physicians in the community and the year ends with a graduation ceremony for the students and their families.

The relationship between mentors and students helps build confidence for the students. Getting to know a doctor on a personal level demystified the “doctor” role, making the profession feel more attainable. This individual attention and encouragement plays an important role in the success of pipeline programs. As one student recalled, “You guys had the confidence in us even though we didn’t really see it in ourselves at first, and it just kind of built trust between us and our mentors and all of us together.” The FFFM students’ teacher at Piner High School, Judy Barcelon, noticed the changes as well: “They just all come back so mature. They talk professionally. It’s really given them a lot of confidence.” This confidence early in a student’s path to medicine is vital to sustaining interest and is a building block for future success.

Interested in starting your own FFFM program? Let us know.

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