Deborah Clements, MD, the chair and the Nancy and Warren Furey Professor of Family and Community Medicine, has been honored with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Thomas W. Johnson Award for her significant contributions to family medicine education.
“Recognition for career contributions to the specialty of Family Medicine is an incredible honor. Many of the previous award recipients have been mentors to me throughout my life. Earning a place beside them in the history of our specialty could only have happened through their support, advice and encouragement. My hope is to continue to be one of the many leaders in our community inspiring even greater accomplishments in those physicians still early in their careers,” said Clements, who is also a professor of Medical Education.
Clements was named chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine in 2013 and is the founding director of the McGaw Northwestern Family Medicine Residency program at Lake Forest. As chair, she has led the department in increasing the impact of family medicine across medical education and clinical care and has expanded postgraduate training across the Chicagoland area to include family medicine residency education in three separate programs, with a third of residents now serving across the Northwestern Medicine health system.
“In all of our programs, we employ innovative curriculum, framing physician training through a lens of health equity so that we can meet the needs of our diverse communities and strive to eliminate health disparities,” Clements said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Clements developed and implemented a program to assess patients’ social determinants of health, including food insecurity, housing instability, transportation and safety, home via the electronic health record system. This program is currently implemented across the Northwestern Medicine health system, helping healthcare providers better connect patients with community resources.
“Just prior to the COVID pandemic, we began studying the impact of social and structural determinants of health on our clinical outcomes and the role of integrating these concepts into graduate medical education. Understanding that more than 60 percent of the factors impacting patient health are attributable to their environment, we began a pilot program to identify these factors during clinical visits in an effort to connect patients with available community resources,” Clements said.
Previously, Clements served as the program director for the University of Kansas Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program and the assistant director for Medical Education at AAFP. She is also a recipient of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians’ (AAFP) Distinguished Service Award for her lifetime contributions to family medicine.
“I’m grateful for the support of Northwestern and the team we’ve recruited,” Clements said. “Ultimately, our goals are to provide exceptional care to all patients and work as their partners to optimize their health. Through education, discovery and continued focus on eliminating disparities we hope to achieve lasting impact and better lives.”
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Listen to Clements on an episode of the Breakthroughs Podcast :