For the third year in a row, the Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG), led by medical students at the University of Minnesota, Duluth Campus, was recognized by the American Academy of Family Physicians as one of 18 FMIGs to earn the 2020 Program of Excellence Award for its exemplary efforts in group operation and professional development. 

Led by faculty advisor, Raymond Christensen, MD, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health, FMIG is one of the largest, most active student groups at the Medical School, Duluth Campus made up of class-elect first and second-year students. FMIG aims to provide students with opportunities to learn from physicians and healthcare workers in the community to explore family medicine. These efforts extend far beyond the national award toward improving the future of family medicine and building the vital physician workforce. 

"Even with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a transition to online learning, the group still found ways to engage with students electronically," said Alexa Alfred, FMIG secretary. "Overall, I am proud of the resilience and innovation of the FMIG group in the face of unprecedented change."

During the academic year, FMIG served as a resource on campus, supporting interest in family medicine practice by hosting a variety of lunch lectures and procedural workshops to develop hands-on skills, as well as organizing health policy and advocacy workshops. 

"It was exciting to get involved with the Pre-Medicine Club for undergraduates at UMD and host a medical student panel and a suturing clinic workshop for them," said FMIG member, Brynna Goraczkowski. "As a pre-med student, I relied heavily on my mentors. It is important to give back and help the next generation as much as possible."

The success of FMIG is fostered by the unique mission of the Duluth campus to educate physicians dedicated to family medicine who will serve the needs of rural and Native American communities and provide vital initiatives for students underrepresented in medicine. 

"We have support from amazing family physicians from the beginning of our medical education, which allows us to curate events that help promote and further the field of family medicine," said Ashley Fankhauser, current FMIG President. "They really helped push FMIG to the boundaries of what it can do." 

FMIG received their award on Friday, July 31, during the first-ever virtual AAFP National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students. The group's recognition also complemented their goal of reaching 80% membership on the Duluth campus. 

"I want to thank the members and leadership team for their efforts in making our group a program of excellence,” said Dr. Christensen. “Our program coordinators, Kate Krasaway and Natasha Jauss, including other staff, have been especially important in supporting FMIG activities."

2019-2020 FMIG Leadership Team of the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus:

  • Faculty Advisor, Raymond Christensen, MD
  • Ashley Fankhauser 
  • Ali Ostfeld
  • Alexa Alfred
  • Kaitlin Geisenhof 
  • Brynna Goraczkowski
  • Fred Blaisdell
  • Kaylie Evers
  • Josie Nistler
  • Alex Wooner
  • Rebekah Fiers