Michigan Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award Presented to U-M Assistant Professor

July 9, 2022 - Preceptor. Supervisor. Professor. Attending. Mentor. Coach. Facilitator. Ambassador. Lecturer. Author. Speaker. Leader. Teacher. These are many of the titles and words that accurately reflect the role of Julie Blaszczak MD, MEHP, assistant professor within the Department of Family Medicine at University of Michigan and an attending physician at several U-M affiliated health centers near Ann Arbor and on the inpatient service at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Chelsea.

Dr. Blaszczak was nominated for the 2022 Michigan Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award by a resident physician, for whom she has served as an advisor for the past three years. Not only did the nomination highlight Dr. Blaszczak’s significant achievements as a leader and an educator, of which there are many, Dr. Blake Arthurs also extolled her passion for caring for the underserved while teaching tomorrow’s family physicians.

For Dr. Blaszczak, that passion is rooted in the family medicine specialty’s focus on community, social justice, and holistic patient care—passion that Dr. Arthurs said shines through in every interaction she has with patients and learners. He described her as an unmatched educator, far and away the most influential educator of her career, one who has been a continued supporter of him as a resident and as a person, and one who has the ability to foster an environment where learners can explore new ideas and levels of responsibility, without fear of judgement or ridicule, as they deliver quality patient care.

Beyond teaching in clinic and bedside, delivering high-yield lectures, and leading inspiring chalk talks, Dr. Blaszczak is recognized for her transformative role in U-M Department of Family Medicine’s curriculum. Having simultaneously completed an academic medicine fellowship at University of Michigan and a Master of Education in the Health Professions degree at Johns Hopkins University in 2021, Dr. Blaszczak brought to U-M the culmination of her capstone project—curriculum for caring for transgender and nonbinary individuals.

The university’s family medicine residency program immediately incorporated the well-rounded, comprehensive curriculum into its third-year programming. During the course, residents learn from online modules and train in a gender-affirming care clinic that Dr. Blaszczak co-founded and where she practices. As Dr. Arthurs shared, this service is desperately needed by a vast number of patients in a community where this type of care is very limited. Plus, patients often come from hours away to seek care from Dr. Blaszczak, and residents continually rate the curriculum and experience highly.

Always ahead of the curve and with an eye on innovation, Dr. Blaszczak is accustomed to forgoing her own path. She was the first in her family to go to medical school and enter a healthcare field. She was one of the first U-M Medical School students to pilot a longitudinal primary care curriculum in her fourth year. Then, while balancing her duties as a chief resident, she helped create a paging curriculum for a residency preparation course for fourth-year students.

Looking ahead, Dr. Blaszczak is joining the faculty of U-M Medical School’s “doctoring” course, a four-year program that helps provide the foundation for students to become thoughtful and skilled physicians. She is also continuing to teach clerkship students in their family medicine rotation and precept residents in continuity clinics, as well as serve as director of the Family Medicine Department’s Faculty Development Initiative 1.0 and a member of the U-M Medical School’s Admissions Executive Committee.

Dr. Blaszczak said she finds great fulfillment in giving back to her chosen profession and the university system she has been a part of since her undergraduate years.