Medical Student Recognized for Commitment to Family Medicine

Jessica Johnson is a Pisacano Scholar and member of the American Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors. Then she'll finish med school. (Chris DeFrancesco/UConn Health Center Photo)

Jessica Johnson is a Pisacano Scholar and member of the American Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors. (Chris DeFrancesco/UConn Health Center Photo)

Jessica Johnson’s dedication to family medicine as a student at the UConn School of Medicine has received a lot of attention.

In the past month she’s been awarded a 2011 Pisacano Scholarship and been elected to the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The Pisacano Leadership Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of the American Board of Family Medicine, Inc., recognizes Johnson as “an outstanding medical student who has made a commitment to enter the specialty of family medicine.” She is one of only five senior medical students in the country to have been named a 2011 Pisacano Scholar.

Pisacano Scholars are required to show demonstrable leadership skills, superior academic achievement, strong communication skills, identifiable character and integrity, and a noteworthy level of community service.

“Jessica Johnson is the first UConn student ever to receive a Pisacano Scholarship, despite many outstanding nominees from UConn over the years,” says Dr. Robert Cushman, chair of the medical school’s Department of Family Medicine. “Her cumulative record of outstanding service to our discipline clearly impressed the Pisacano selection committee, as well as convinced her student peers across the nation to elect her to serve as their representative on the AAFP board. UConn and the Connecticut Academy of Family Physicians have every reason to be very proud to have Ms. Johnson representing all of us at the national level.”

The AAFP represents more than 100,000 physicians and medical students nationwide. As the lone student serving on its board of directors, Johnson is responsible for representing the interests and opinions of the National Congress of Student Members to the board and the AAFP Congress of Delegates, and for advocating on behalf of family physicians and patients throughout the U.S. to inspire positive change in the American health care system.

Jessica Johnson (left) volunteered with Drs. Bruce Gould and Marilyn Katz at a free clinic for the underserved Washington, D.C. (Photo supplied by Dr. Bruce Gould)

Jessica Johnson (left) volunteered with Drs. Bruce Gould and Marilyn Katz at a free clinic for the underserved Washington, D.C. (Photo supplied by Dr. Bruce Gould)

“What makes family medicine stand out for me is an inherent philosophy of building relationships with patients across their lifetime and of serving communities both in and out of the exam room,” Johnson says. “I feel so fortunate to be entering such an innovative, comprehensive, and patient-centered specialty. There is a lot of uncertainty about the direction our health care system is taking, but I believe that any successful model must be based on a strong and appropriately-valued primary care foundation. The health of our country will be better for it.”

Johnson is a fourth-year student at the UConn School of Medicine, where she also is pursuing her Master of Public Health degree, and her student career already has a number of accolades:

  • Her leadership and community service during her participation as an Urban Service Track scholar in her first year earned her an Urban Service Track Leadership Award. UST is a program designed to prepare students for service to vulnerable populations.
  • She helped organize and coordinate the UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic in the summer and fall following her first year. The clinic had more than 1,200 patient encounters that season.
  • She reinvigorated the UConn School of Medicine’s Family Medicine Interest Group and has served as a regional coordinator for the FMIG National Network Southeast Region.
  • She has volunteered at the South Park Inn Medical Clinic, a student-run free clinic for the homeless in Hartford, since starting medical school and has served on the board for three years.
  • She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society in 2010.
  • She spent a year as a health policy intern with the Primary Care Coalition of Connecticut, helping with the strategic planning for a coalition of 17 primary care provider groups. She previously had served as the student representative to the group.
  • She has served as a student member of the UConn School of Medicine on the board of the Connecticut Academy of Family Physicians.
  • Prior to her election to the board of directors, she served as a student delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates.

Johnson says she plans to practice “full-scope, cradle-to-grave family medicine in an underserved community.

“I also hope to one day teach medical students, and will continue to advocate for meaningful health care reform.”

Johnson attended her first meeting as the student member of the AAFP board the week of Sept. 12 in Orlando.


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