DFM Education Mission In TransitionRobert | Family Medicine Aug 8, 2022
After 30 years setting the foundation of the Department of Family Medicine's Education and Training mission area, Kent Voorhees, MD, recently retired and handed over the reins to a familiar face.
Linda Montgomery, MD, MA, FAAFP - long-time director for the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency is our department's new Vice Chair for Education.
We asked them both to reflect on this transition and what it means to them and to the future of family medicine medical education.
Kent Voohees, MD
When and how did you first come to DFM and when did you first take up the mantle of leading the Education mission area?The Department had approached me in 1992 about using my practice as the nucleus for starting a family medicine residency at Swedish. We worked on it for 2 years and had our first residents in 1994. I became program director in 2001 and was asked by Frank to come to the University full time to oversee all of our educational programs, which I did, and this occurred in 2006.
What were your goals and how do you feel that you have done with achieving those goals?
My first goal was to keep our program directors well informed on the latest ideas, ways of doing things, and changes to help the program directors to excel in running their programs. I also wanted to be open and available for new opportunities. Our University Family Medicine Residency has gone through major changes to change it from having difficulty matching, to be one of the best programs in the country. These changes were launched by being a part of P4 (Preparing the Personal Physician for Practice), along with other successful innovations. We have developed an Addiction Medicine Fellowship, a Rural Training Track in Ft. Morgan, and brought Preventive Medicine and Occupational Medicine residencies into our department. Due to the great work from Hospice and Palliative Medicine Leadership and interdepartmental collaboration, we have the most innovative and successful Hospice and Palliative Medicine Program in the country – where we have a track where the fellows can do online training the first year, and stay in their practices around the country and do the rest of their training in the town that they practice, with some continued online components. This is approved for 24 fellows, to go along with our approval for 5 fellows in the traditional fellowship program. We created 4th year fellowships, where some graduating residents remained as junior faculty, and continued their training in certain areas they are interested in. I have modified how we do things in our Appointments and Promotions Committee, to be more in line with the Rules of the School of Medicine, and I have mentored numerous faculty regarding promotion requirements, and our faculty have all been successful in their promotions. We have created a Longitudinal Promotion Mentoring Program, so that all faculty will receive the same information about promotion, regardless of who their mentor is. Frank wanted us to have the best Undergraduate Medical Education program in the country. We have hired amazing leaders, and excellent faculty for this. Our department has been important participants in the Curricular Reform efforts in the School of Medicine. For the most part we have had increased numbers of students choosing family medicine. Other departments have wanted to emulate how we do things. It is hard to say if we achieved being the best UME program in the country, but we feel that we are. Everything above is only successful because of the amazing faculty and staff that we have.
What are you most proud and what kind of impact do you think you and your team have made to advance the field of family medicine?
I think that the collection of the work that we have done as described above is what makes me very proud, and humbled to have the opportunity to get to work and lead some amazing people. I have also been a national consultant of the AAFP’s Residency Program Solutions (RPS) for the last 12 years, with expertise in GME funding, and new program development. The work I have done with this has helped to advance the field of family medicine, with the development of new programs that are producing quality family physicians. With my expertise in GME funding, I have helped the SOM, UCH, and UCHealth, and I have even had the opportunity to help write a bill on a new way to fund rural training tracks across the country, which could really help the health professional shortage areas, particularly in rural America. This bill was originally introduced in Congress by Senator Cory Gardner, and is now being carried by Senator Jon Tester.
Why transition now?
This transition is a little earlier than I had planned, but I felt that I needed to retire for some health reasons.
Tell us about the choice of Linda Montgomery to be your successor.
Former DFM chair, Frank deGruy had me start thinking about succession planning about 4-5 years ago. Linda has a proven track record of being a wonderful leader of the UCH Residency. She is well known and admired within in the University, and has taken on several leadership roles within the School of Medicine. Her personality and demeanor of how she gets along with other people, and her strong work ethic make her ideal for this position. There are other talented leaders in the department who would all be quite capable of doing this job, but I feel that Linda will do a fantastic job in this new position for her.
Linda Montgomery, MD, MA, FAAFP
Vice Chair for Education
Give us a little background on your background in DFM for those who may not know.After five years as a faculty member at the University of Florida working on both undergraduate and graduate education, I arrived here sixteen years ago to join the residency as a core faculty member. I was attracted to the spirit of innovation in the department and the commitment to practice transformation and behavioral health integration. I blossomed here, becoming associate program director and then program director for the past eleven years. Leading this amazing learning community with its dedicated staff, breathtakingly smart residents, and talented faculty through good, bad, and challenging times has been the best job I've ever had. Other roles I play for the department are as a co-chair for our Gender Equity Academic Promotions Task Force and as a member of our Appointments and Promotions Committee.
Tell us about your reaction when you were approached about leading the Education mission area.
For the past few years, I've taken on more leadership roles within the Graduate Medical Education enterprise at the School of Medicine. Through that work, I've collaborated closely with other Vice Chairs of Education, which made me increasingly interested in this role in our department. When our DFM leaders approached me with their interest in my becoming our department's VC of Education I was both thrilled and a bit trepidatious. It is surely bittersweet to no longer be the residency's mama, but I am truly excited to develop the entire sweep of Family Medicine education. I love a new challenge and I love our department, so this feels right.
What about the program impresses you and, moving forward, how do you see it growing under your leadership?
I’m impressed with our educational mission area's extremely talented faculty. I think we have some of the finest medical educators working in any department of Family Medicine in the country. Our undergraduate medical educators have tireless energy and passion for spreading the good word of Family Medicine. And our GME teachers both at UH and DH in residency and fellowships are amazing doctors and talented teachers. I'm also impressed with the continuing spirit of innovation to try new things to meet the needs of our patients and communities. Under my leadership, I believe our educational programs will grow in actual size and in scope. I have our departmental mission "To Help People Be Healthier" tacked up near my desk so I see it every day. I want to make sure that our educational programs are in service to that mission so that we are always growing and trying new things with better patient and community care in mind. We have great opportunities to make more and even better family physicians through strengthening our teaching of medical students and through growth of existing and birth of new residency and fellowship programs. We also have the opportunity to grow our involvement in training at the ends of the continuum through development of pipeline and faculty development and in exploring education of the entire primary care team. I also very much want to keep our educational mission area on the cutting edge through involving our teams in national demonstration projects, exploration of grant funding, and by developing an excellent educational scholarship program to spread the news of our work together.
What are the most important lessons that you have learned from Kent?
Kent has shown me how to be a humble, hardworking, and very patient leader. He has also exemplified the personal satisfaction and professional worth of growing expertise and mastery.
Congratulations to both Kent and Linda on their new adventures - and, also to Corey Lyon, DO, who assumes the role of Program Director for the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency.