This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2021 ACGME Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) represent the best in the field. They were honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, which took place virtually February 24-26, 2021.
2021 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Awardee Steven R. Brown, MD, FAAFP is the program director for family medicine at University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
ACGME: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically?
Brown: Medicine is a great way to combine curiosity, working with people, and service, especially service to those most in need. I love to teach and work with others to inspire young physicians for the future of family medicine.
ACGME: What does receiving this award mean to you?
Brown: The Parker Palmer Award is a huge honor and really says a lot about the team I have worked with for almost 10 years as program director. I am so appreciative of amazing colleagues, and residents in our program, current and graduates, who have made such a difference in my career.
ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job the program director has?
Brown: Helping residents find, explore, and develop their passions in family medicine for a lifelong rewarding career that makes a difference in their communities.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Brown: Seeing family physicians realize their full potential as leaders, teachers, and clinicians.
ACGME: What is the most challenging?
Brown: The US health care system is unjust and does not adequately value primary care. Navigating this challenge can be very difficult for idealistic learners who came into the specialty of family medicine to change the world. How do we fight for what matters for our patients and make a difference in communities while preserving our well-being?
ACGME: What advice do you have to residents or fellows who may be interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine?
Brown: Spend time becoming a great teacher in your work as a resident or fellow. Volunteer to get involved in teaching activities. Find an area of passion and develop it. Find a mentor who can help you develop this passion.
ACGME: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Brown: Twitter can help you find people that share your passions in medicine and develop a community. Sign up and find people who inspire you!