The ACOFP New Osteopathic Family Physician of the Year Award honors physicians who have made significant contributions to family medicine between two and five years after entering the specialty and who have demonstrated exemplary leadership qualities that would honor the memory of Michael F. Avallone, DO, FACOFP dist., after whom the award is named.

We asked past winners of this award what advice they have for new physicians, and here is what a few of them had to say:

Remember to always care for yourself—it is the best “medicine” for your patients when you are fully engaged and present for their care. Remain committed to the work and know that it makes a difference. Show up to do the best you can in spite of the hard days and challenges that you will come up against. Remember that you have support; use it whenever necessary.

—Teshina N. Wilson, DO, 2013 recipient

I would recommend finding “your people.” Find a small group of 3–4 people you like, who are kind and gentle with you, who are interested in you and you in them. Talk to them. Be with them. Weather life with them. As a physician, there are great days and terrible days. Find a few people who make you enjoy life, remember that time marches on no matter what, and who support you. These people don’t have to be life partners; they may be other people from your department, your faith community, your friendship circle. Having a few amazing friends and one outstanding husband has made all the difference to my success.

—Katherine Lincoln, DO, FACOFP, 2018 recipient

My biggest piece of advice is to never be afraid to ask questions. It sounds simple and obvious, but I think many who enter attending-hood have an idea that they are now supposed to be the one with all the answers. And that’s impossible. Medicine is a team sport. Get good people on your team.

—Kathleen Henley, DO, 2020 recipient

For those wondering about getting involved, my advice is that it is easier than you’d think. If you’re willing to participate, there will be many people excited to welcome you to the table. One way to get involved is to start with your ACOFP state chapter if it is available to you. They usually are looking for active members to serve on committees, help plan conferences and serve on the board. Many young physicians are getting involved on state boards earlier in their career and can speak to the concerns of their generation. If our voice isn’t represented, then we can’t shape the future of medicine. So consider getting involved and speaking up.

If you’re looking to get more involved at the national level, there are many committees and task forces that you can serve on with ACOFP, as well. Choose something you already have experience in or a special interest that will make you a more valuable member of the group. Once you’ve established yourself within ACOFP, you may find it easier to join a committee where you have less experience but a desire to learn and grow within a different track of the profession. If it works for you, attend conferences and go to different mixers to meet other active members who can continue to help network you within ACOFP. This is also where committees get to meet in-person and build connection. I always feel inspired and a sense of camaraderie after attending ACOFP Annual Convention & Scientific Seminars.

Lastly, consider getting involved with the ACOFP Congress of Delegates (COD). In my home state of Michigan, most of the resolutions are written by students, residents and young physicians. So whether you knew it or not, this is another place in which you can easily get involved and have a voice for the future of medicine. You may not know what you’d like to say yet, but diving into advocacy and policy-related committees and events can help you build a knowledge base, experience and confidence. Advocacy is such an important part of being an active ACOFP member, so look at opportunities to serve as a delegate at COD to learn more. Then, when inspiration strikes, don’t hesitate to get involved in the resolution writing process. Most people write in groups and not alone, so the pressure is off to be good at it. Being engaged is the only requirement for our group!

There’s no one way to become the next young physician of the year. It’s all about engagement. If you’re participating in your local community, your state, and nationally, you’re well on your way to making a tremendous difference. I see more and more young people getting involved, and it’s so exciting and inspiring because we are the future of medicine. We have to be engaged to shift what that future will look like for ourselves and our patients.

—Rachel A. Young, DO, 2021 recipient

Nominate a physician for this award—or other ACOFP awards—by September 15.

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