Kate Conway named Family Medicine Educator of the Year

Kate Conway, assistant professor of family medicine at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.

The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) announced that Kate Conway, M.D., a 2005 alumna of the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, is the recipient of its 2020 Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award.

The OAFP annually presents the Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award to a family medicine educator who meets and exceeds the criteria of being a capable teacher of family medicine, successful administrator/practitioner, productive researcher/scholar and inspiring leader. Candidates also must have 10 years post-residency (or equivalent) experience, be actively caring for patients and be a member of OAFP.

Lauren Wichman, M.D., ‘20, a family medicine resident working in Cleveland, nominated Conway.

“I nominated Dr. Conway for the Educator of the Year Award because she was a fantastic advisor, mentor and role model to myself and many other students at Wright State University. I was able to witness the compassion she has for her patients firsthand and have found myself attempting to emulate her in my interactions with patients,” Wichman said. “She helped me develop a strong foundation of clinical skills and was so supportive during our advising meetings. She was a huge source of inspiration for me to become a family medicine physician.”

Conway, assistant professor of family medicine, has practiced medicine for 15 years. At the Boonshoft School of Medicine, she leads through many roles. She serves as director of medical education for the Department of Family Medicine; clerkship director for family medicine; director of the Global Health Scholars Program; and co-director of the Global Health Clinic at Five Rivers Family Health Center.

“For me, practicing and teaching family medicine are so connected that I can’t imagine doing one without the other. When I am with patients, I get so excited about our specialty and the power of the primary care physician’s continuity in patients’ lives that I want to go tell someone how amazing this is and why I love what I do,” Conway said. “Students are my witnesses to the excitement and passion I have for my job. When we come out of a patient’s room together, they will often hear me say, ‘OK, that’s why I love family medicine.’ When working with students one-on-one or in the classroom, I warn them that I will be constantly recruiting them to family medicine.”

Conway is also chair of the Doctoring Committee; Clinical Medicine instructor; a mentor for all students interested in applying to residency in Family Medicine, and a mentor for students interested in global and public health scholarly work. She recently led the Wright State Physicians COVID-19 Taskforce and serves on the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s Student COVID-19 Taskforce.

“Overall, I want to create an environment where learners feel excited and inspired to do their best work while recognizing it is OK to say, ‘I don’t know,’ or ‘I made a mistake,’ and ‘I’m feeling lost,’” Conway said. “Medicine has fostered a fear of failure for too long and our learners thrive when they feel brave and safe to be human first in their journeys toward doctoring.”

Conway completed residency at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. She completed her Master of Public Health at Case Western Reserve University and focused her studies and clinical experience on global health and underserved populations. She spent five years working in Cleveland at a federally qualified health community center, where she was the director of a refugee health program and later the medical director of a new start-up clinic specializing in refugee and immigrant populations. She joined the Boonshoft School of Medicine faculty in 2014.

Conway traveled to Guatemala as a medical student, resident and alumna to work on various community health outreach programs for the indigenous Mayan populations. She also completed a fellowship in academic medicine (FAME) through Northeast Ohio Medical University.

“I am grateful for all the teachers of family medicine who inspired me and supported me throughout my education and my professional development. I am so happy to be ‘back home’ at Boonshoft and to be a part of the legacy that has trained and graduated such wonderful physicians for all our patients,” Conway said. “I have been so moved seeing all my physician colleagues out in the world living through and working within the stresses of this pandemic. At the same time, they have showcased the power of physician advocacy by adding voice to the public health crisis of racism and health disparities we are seeing so clearly in our society right now. Our future physicians have so much to offer, and I am humbled to be a part of their story.”

Conway is board certified in family medicine and is a diplomat of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She enjoys spending time with her family and walking her two Newfies along the Bill Yeck trails.

In 2014, Gary LeRoy, M.D., ’88, associate dean for student affairs and admissions at the Boonshoft School of Medicine, was honored with the Family Medicine Educator of the Year Award. The award was also given in 2015 to John Donnelly, M.D., professor of family medicine.

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