Hi, my name is Angela Kuznia, I am a fourth year medical student and chair of AMSA’s National Primary Care Week (NPCW) 2011 planning committee. This is my second year serving in this position, and my fourth year celebrating NPCW. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my NPCW experiences and my own path towards a career in primary care.
NPCW 2008: I was a first year medical student and new AMSA member at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. I was knee-deep in textbooks, class notes, and flashcards, with highlighter stains on my hands (and sometimes my sheets), learning to survive my first semester of medical school. I attended several lunchtime NPCW events hosted by my school’s AMSA chapter and learned about opportunities for primary care physicians in the National Health Service Corps and various career paths in primary care. This was my first real introduction to AMSA as well, and it gave me a much needed big-picture perspective on medicine at a time when I was busy memorizing biochemical pathways and physiology equations.
NPCW 2009: I had survived the academic rigors of my first year, and was soaking up as much knowledge as possible in my second year coursework. I had gotten more involved in AMSA by this time, and had become president of my school’s chapter. My executive board put together an impressive NPCW line-up, including collaborative events with the Pediatrics, Geriatrics, and Family Medicine interest groups. Most excitingly, we hosted a round-table discussion of potential health care policy changes featuring local family physicians and both Democratic and Republican state legislators who debated a number of issues. Over 100 people, including medical students, physicians, faculty, and members of the public, attended the evening event. The arguments were heated, and created a buzz of excitement that lasted for quite a while on our campus.
NPCW 2010: I was in the midst of my intense third-year Internal Medicine rotation, and had spent much of the summer preparing for NPCW 2010. I still had no idea what specialty I was interested in. I was unable to participate in any NPCW events at my local AMSA chapter due to my grueling clinical schedule, but was active in an administrative role in a number of rewarding ways. My planning team dreamed up an exciting theme, recruited over a dozen partner organizations, created an in-depth programming menu, awarded 22 AMSA chapters with grants, and presented a poster at the AMSA National Convention based on data collected during NPCW. I was exhausted at the end of it all, but was also proud of what I had accomplished and the AMSA membership’s appreciation for all things NPCW.
NPCW 2011: I finally decided on a specialty (surprise….Family Medicine!) and have been coordinating NPCW while completing my residency applications and scheduling interviews. We established an awesome partnership with the organization Primary Care Progress (PCP) this year, decided on the theme “Innovations in Primary Care”, and received a record number of NPCW grant applications. It seems like things came together a lot more easily this year…maybe because I’ve been busy and unable to worry as much (probably true), maybe because I’ve actually learned how to be a good leader (hopefully true), and maybe because of the excellent AMSA-PCP folks I’ve been lucky enough to have on my team (definitely true). I hope that this year’s NPCW is the greatest success yet, and that we are able to continue expanding and improving NPCW in years to come.
What have been your experiences with NPCW? Maybe it’s your first time celebrating, or maybe you were inspired to pursue a career because of something you learned during an NPCW long ago. Whoever and wherever you are, I’d like to wish you a happy National Primary Care Week on behalf of this year's planning team! Thanks for sharing it with us!