Fostering Future Physicians

May 29, 2013

In the eyes of her patients, Stephanie M. Fosback, MD, is a healer, a provider, and a respected doctor. For students in the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) program, she's more than an outstanding physician—she's a mentor, role model, and the recent recipient of the 2013 WWAMI Distinguished Teacher award.

As a board certified internist, Fosback provides primary care at Palouse Medical and is a member of Pullman Regional Hospital Medical Staff. She has been teaching third year medical students, on site at Palouse Medical, as part of the WWAMI program since 2010.

Founded in 1971, WWAMI is one of the most successful models for medical education in the U.S. Through physician supervised clerkship and residency programs, students gain valuable experience from local doctors who mentor students in clinical settings.

The honor of Distinguished Teacher is selected by the graduating class of the UW School of Medicine. The award recognizes a WWAMI faculty member who has had a significant impact on medical education and is based on students' written assessments of the quality of teaching.

In the words of Kassie Spohr, a University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine senior, "The first thing that makes Dr. Fosback a great teacher is that she is a great physician. She has great rapport with her patients and provides excellent medical care with a compassionate and personal touch. She carries this personal touch to her role as an educator. She continually challenged me to reach the next step in my clinical reasoning and skills."

For Mallory Beale, also a UW School of Medicine senior, Fosback's genuine investment in her learning process inspired a desire to make a similar impact as she is tasked with educating medical students in her summer residency program. "I genuinely felt that she wanted me to learn something every day and made a conscious effort to pass something onto me.  I only hope that I can impact someone's life and education like Dr. Fosback has for me."

UW School of Medicine senior, Ian May, credits Fosback for her role in helping discover his career path. "My experience with Dr. Fosback was one of the best of medical school and inspired me to choose Internal Medicine as a specialty. I will remember the experience (and the patients I met in Pullman) fondly as I move forward into residency and beyond."

"I am so honored and touched by this award," said Fosback. "Credit should also be given to the other teachers in my group: Dr. Dennis Simpson, Dr. Jaime Bowman, and Nancy Gregory, ARNP. Without them, there would not be a clerkship here."

"This award suggests Steph is a superb teacher amongst hundreds of great teachers across the 5-state region," noted John McCarthy, MD, Assistant Dean of Regional Affairs and WWAMI Clinical Coordinator for Eastern and Central Washington. "From my personal perspective, Steph embodies the type of teacher and physician I want to be."

"The UW School of Medicine cultivates its teachers in order to advance excellent teaching. To be singled out for this award is exceptional. This is truly an impressive accolade for someone at this point in her teaching career," added McCarthy.

Fosback explained her passion for mentoring medical students is fueled by the enthusiasm, excitement, and the refreshing perspectives from her students. "I love my job, and I love having students work with me. It is important for me to show students that being someone's doctor matters, and continuity over time is essential to getting good care. They teach me as much as I them, and make me better at what I do."

Fosback will receive the Distinguished Teacher award at the Medical School Executive Committee and is invited to attend the 2013 UW School of Medicine Hooding Ceremony in June.

Her advice to students is simple yet powerful: "Choose something you love that will make a difference in this world. Always keep an open mind."

Contact: Alison Weigley, Community Relations Coordinator
Pullman Regional Hospital

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