Deborah Smith Clements, MD, the Nancy and Warren Furey Professor and chair of Family and Community Medicine, and professor of Medical Education, has received the Illinois Academy of Family Physician’s (IAFP) Distinguished Service Award.
The award is bestowed only occasionally, recognizing lifetime contributions to the specialty of family medicine.
“I’m so honored, it’s very humbling.” Clements said.
Clements joined Northwestern in 2013 as chair of Family and Community Medicine and currently directs the McGaw Northwestern Family Medicine Residency at Lake Forest. She also oversees training of residents at three programs across the Chicago area.
This program has grown considerably under Clements’ leadership: in 2009, there were zero family medicine residents, but 72 will complete their training in 2022. As the Northwestern Medicine health system has acquired community hospitals, they have established new residency programs, a testament to the academic medical center’s growing focus on primary care.
“Everyone has recognized that family medicine belongs in the communities we serve,” Clements said. “Being able to train these physicians in communities with a relationship with their patients and an eye towards advocacy has helped grow family medicine at Feinberg,” Clements said.
Expanding the family medicine residency program is an important step towards alleviating the shortage of primary care physicians and creating a more equitable and cost-efficient healthcare system, according to Clements.
“Our job is to keep people well and to ensure they can access care in the communities where they live and work,” Clements said. “We are working toward a model of care that has a strong foundation of primary care.”
Previously, Clements served as program director for the University of Kansas Medical Center Family Medicine Residency and as assistant director for Medical Education at the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Founded in 1947, the IAFP is a professional society representing over 5,000 family physicians, residents and medical students and provides continuing medical education (CME) programming, advocacy and opportunities for member engagement. The IAFP is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).