Hooked on family medicine, Michael Munger is new AAFP president, promises to advocate for fellow physicians

Doctor with patient
He never intended to be a family physician, writes Michael Munger, M.D., new president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

He planned to be an emergency room doctor, but Michael Munger, M.D., who yesterday began his term as president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, found his career took another turn.

Munger, of Overland Park, Kansas, says he instead got hooked on family medicine—attracted by the large scope the field has to offer doctors.

RELATED: Expert—Physicians who move to health system employment must preserve family medicine roots

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It was as a medical school student, working every other weekend as an orderly at a local hospital, that he met some family medicine residents who moonlighted in the emergency department. “These doctors were the smartest, friendliest and most compassionate physicians I had encountered,” Munger wrote in an AAFP blog post. They included him in discussions and often shared their cases. “But what really got my attention was the fact that these family physicians knew a lot about everything. It seemed there was nothing they couldn't handle—trauma, critical illnesses, orthopedics. You name it. For a young medical student, it was impressive and powerful.”

The idea of taking a broader view and caring for patients beyond just the injury or disease that brought them to the ER appealed to Munger, who has now spent three decades in family medicine. He has worked in an independent practice, been an employed physician, worked as a preceptor, taught in a residency and worked in healthcare administration.

RELATED: Medical school attitude—If you're ‘too dumb,’ then primary care is for you

In a weird twist, the same career switch happened to Munger’s son Kevin in his final year of medical school. With no intention of following his father’s footsteps into family medicine, Kevin planned to become an orthopedic surgeon—until he decided to do a second rotation in family medicine and saw how the specialty works to improve the lives of patients, Munger said. Kevin is now a third-year family medicine resident.

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