A University of Missouri professor will receive the American Academy of Family Physicians' highest honor in education today at a ceremony in Philadelphia. The Thomas W. Johnson Award recognizes Elizabeth Garrett, MD, for her career contributions to family medicine education.
Garrett has been a leader in improving family medicine education across the country for nearly three decades. She was instrumental in developing the first national curriculum for family medicine third- year clerkships, served as a faculty member in national development programs for chief residents and medical student educators, and helped create a widely used teacher development program for community family physicians who teach medical students in their offices.
"I've been so fortunate to hold national leadership positions that have contributed to family medicine education," said Garrett, William C. Allen Professor of Family and Community Medicine. "These opportunities have led to meaningful programs that are used throughout the country." Garrett has held multiple positions with medical organizations. She has served the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine as president, co-chair of its group on medical student education, as member-at-large of its board of directors, secretary of its foundation and as representative to the Association of American Medical Colleges' Council of Academic Societies. She received the society's 2010 Recognition Award.
"Dr. Garrett is a true national leader in family medicine education," said Steve Zweig, MD, chair of family and community medicine at MU. "Through her leadership at the University of Missouri and nationwide, she has impacted thousands of young physicians during the past 30 years."
Garrett has also served as chair of the American Board of Family Medicine, a member of the board of curators of the Center for the History of Family Medicine, chair of the board of directors and past president for the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, and president of the University of Missouri Medical Alumni Organization.
Garrett graduated from MU's School of Medicine in 1979 and completed residency training in its family and community medicine department. After three years as a faculty member at Dartmouth College Medical School in Hanover, N.H., Garrett returned to MU to enroll in its Robert Wood Johnson Academic Fellowship Program. In 1988, she earned a master's degree in public health and joined MU's faculty. Garrett currently serves as the department's director of medical student education, which includes her leadership of the family medicine clerkship and Ambulatory Clinical Experience for the medical school. In addition to her teaching and administrative duties, Garrett treats patients at MU's Green Meadows Family Medicine Clinic.
In 2005, Garrett helped establish MU School of Medicine's innovative Legacy Teachers program. The program recognizes that patients are among the best and most memorable teachers for physicians. Medical students participating in the program reflect on patients who have had a lasting impact on their ability to provide patient-centered care. Students submit an essay or artwork describing patient contributions to their lifelong development and share it with patients at an annual ceremony that attracts hundreds of supporters.
"Legacy Teachers is one of my favorite programs," Garrett said. "It grew out of MU medical school's focus on teaching physicians to provide effective patient-centered care. We think every medical school in the country should adopt this program."