U-M Physician Named Michigan Family Physician of the Year

July 24, 2021—Throughout her career, the 2021 Michigan Family Physician of the Year, Pamela Rockwell, DO, FAAFP, has been the consummate family physician, exemplifying extraordinary service to her patients.

Her clinical outpatient practice encompasses the full spectrum of family medicine, including pediatric and adult care, prenatal care, women’s health, and osteopathic manipulation. She also attends to family medicine patients admitted to general medicine floors of the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Sincere, reliable, tireless, dedicated, warm, humorous, respectful, consistently excellent, and a cultivator of relationships are just a few words that Dr. Rockwell's patients use to describe her. Patients also greatly appreciate her breadth of clinical experience and medical knowledge that underly her approach to treating the whole person rather than simply managing a disease.

When nominating Dr. Rockwell for Michigan Academy of Family Physicians’ Physician of the Year Award, one patient shared that never in his first 50 years did he have a doctor he considered his doctor … until he met Dr. Rockwell. “Now I will never have another,” he said.

Since joining the family medicine faculty at University of Michigan in 1994, Dr. Rockwell has built a loyal and sought-after family medicine practice. Beginning in 1993, she has served as medical director of Domino’s Farms Family Medicine Clinic, which consistently ranks near the top of all of U-M’s ambulatory sites for quality performance and patient satisfaction.

As a clinical leader, she has earned a reputation for independence and innovation, raising the bar of excellence in primary care delivery within U-M’s academic health system. Among her peers and U-M leaders she is known as an extraordinary clinician, educator, and leader; systematic, loyal, caring, compassionate, and superb; a master at teaching patients about their conditions; and tenacious when advocating for her patients and overcoming bureaucratic barriers.

She is also recognized for selflessly giving her time and energy to help the citizens of Michigan understand the necessity for and safety of vaccines. She has spent countless hours studying, teaching, presenting, and advocating for the importance of vaccines for our public health, and she has published many articles and scholarly works, including a textbook on vaccine science for primary care.

In 2013, Dr. Rockwell completed a fellowship in vaccine science through the American Academy of Family Physicians, after which she was appointed as the Academy’s liaison to the CDC’s national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. She also serves as MAFP’s liaison to the Michigan Advisory Committee on Immunizations within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). In these roles, Dr. Rockwell speaks as the voice of family physicians to ensure immunization recommendations align with the experience of primary care physicians.

Dr. Rockwell’s vaccine expertise and leadership were exceptionally important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in the fall of 2020, as COVID-vaccine clinical trial data began to be released, she was called upon in her ACIP role to evaluate safety and efficacy data for purposes of providing expert panel advice to inform vaccination policy, strategy, and dissemination. She also worked in several key roles within MDHHS, advocating for sound science and efficient and just vaccine distribution, and she was a strong voice for the practice of community-based family medicine. Earlier this year, Dr. Rockwell was appointed to Gov. Whitmer’s Protect Michigan Commission to help clinicians and Michiganders navigate the COVID pandemic.

Known as an enthusiastic teacher, Dr. Rockwell regularly mentors residents and students in the clinic and on the inpatient service. Her teaching style, based on expert medical knowledge and that of a well-rounded physician, consistently earns high ratings from her mentees. For her excellence in teaching, Dr. Rockwell was recently selected as a member of University of Michigan’s prestigious Academy of Educational Excellence—an honor bestowed upon just three percent of all faculty members across all specialties at the university.

Lastly, as an advocate for her specialty, Dr. Rockwell is concise, direct, and confident when speaking with legislators at the State Capitol and members of Congress on the Hill. She has been active in MAFP’s Advocacy Committee since 2015 and has served on the MAFP Board of Directors as a member-at-large since 2016. In these roles, she is not only a strong voice for family physicians to organized medicine and policy makers, but she is also a role model for her colleagues and learners by living her professional values and working tirelessly to advance comprehensive person-, family-, and community-centered care throughout Michigan and beyond.

“I am honored and humbled by this wonderful award and distinction and so very proud to be a family physician. I appreciate my family and all who have supported me both personally and professionally, especially this past year as we all collectively did our very best to serve our patients and community during this epic time of illness and hardship during the pandemic,” said Dr. Rockwell.