Student Externship Provides Opportunity for Hands-on Family Medicine Exploration

As one who always liked the idea of being the physician that patients rely on as their “home base” in medicine—helping them to organize their care and using preventive medicine to manage disease—Michelle Fedorowicz was confident in her choice to practice primary care medicine long before entering Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in 2017. What was unclear to her, however, was which path to choose.

That’s why, when presented with the opportunity to explore Family Medicine from an insider’s view, she jumped at the chance and applied for Family Medicine Foundation of Michigan’s (FMFM) 2018 summer externship.

As Michigan Academy of Family Physicians’ philanthropic arm dedicated to advancing Family Medicine in our state, FMFM invests in initiatives aimed at increasing the number of students and residents who choose to pursue careers as Family Physicians. One such initiative is the annual medical student externship, funded jointly by FMFM and AAFP Foundation, which pairs a medical student with a mentor who provides hands-on experiences showcasing what being a Family Physician truly entails.

“I was able to expand my clinical experience exponentially from my first year of medical school,” said Michelle of the month she trained under the guidance of Srikala Yedavally-Yellayi, DO, Family Medicine Clerkship Director at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and Osteopathic Family Medicine Program Director at Beaumont Family Medicine Residency-Troy.

“My days varied greatly in the Family Medicine clinic, as I spent most every day with a different physician—both attendings and residents. There was never a patient or hour that went by where teaching wasn’t going on, whether from the physician to myself, the physician to the patient, or the attending to the resident. It was really special to be a part of this, and to have such an open learning environment to practice my own skills and learn from others.”

Michelle said she also benefited greatly from experiencing the variety of what Family Physicians are able to do in their practice. Helping at a local high school’s sports physical night, seeing patients in the hospital, participating in OB visits and with procedures, such as skin biopsies and colposcopies, opened her eyes to the comprehensive scope of the specialty. Plus, she said she also developed confidence in her ability to conduct a patient interview and report back to the physician, as well as build clinical reasoning/assessment skills.

“After my month in the Family Medicine Center at Beaumont Troy, my commitment is still to primary care and even more so to Family Medicine. This experience showed me how diverse the scope of practice can be as a Family Physician and how well qualified Family Physicians are to handle almost any problem that comes at them,” said Michelle.

If you are a medical student interested in the Family Medicine Foundation of Michigan / AAFP Foundation summer externship, it’s not too early to apply for 2019.  

“This externship really provides a wonderful opportunity to better understand the broad scope of Family Medicine and the critical role Family Physicians have in the healthcare system” said Dr. Yedavally-Yellayi.

If you are a practicing physician who would like to mentor a student during a one-month externship, encourage him/her to apply. As Dr. Yedavally-Yellayi said of her mentorship experience, “As a physician educator, it is beyond gratifying to work with a student like Michelle, who, so early in her medical school training, understands the value of Family Medicine and what it means to be a Family Physician.”