Illinois celebrates 2015 AAFP Exemplary Teaching Award Honoree

We’re pleased to share the good news that Illinois’ nominee for the AAFP Exemplary Teaching Award for volunteer faculty has been selected for the 2015 Award.  Alisha T. Thomas, MD was IAFP’s 2014 Family Medicine Teacher of the Year – Volunteer Faculty in 2014.  She was recognized by AAFP for launching her longitudinal primary care experience with Northwestern Feinberg school of medicine students for all four years of medical school, which has become standard curriculum.  In a letter from AAFP President Robert L. Wergin, MD, he praised her "powerful impact through your outreach and activism in the community." Alisha Thomas, MD Joined PCC Wellness – Austin Family Health Center upon residency completion at West Suburban Family Medicine Residency Program in Oak Park. Today she serves as the organization’s community liaison, representing PCC at local events and health fairs.

She’s a groundbreaking teacher, leading the design and implementation of a pilot program called Education-Centered Medical Home for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, providing longitudinal experience in the medical home philosophy. Students report to their ECMH every other week the entire four years of medical school.  Her impact has been so profound that Northwestern is spreading the program and making it standard for all students.  Dr. Thomas credit’s her own program director, Scott Levin, MD, for inspiring her teaching career.  “He is one of the most skilled ‘off the cuff’ family medicine educators I’ve ever encountered.”

Northwestern University 2015 graduate Kristin M. Unti, MD says, "My experience over the past four years as a student in Dr. Thomas’s clinic is one that can never be replicated nor replaced.  She, more than any other physician, is responsible for shaping me into the soon-to-be physician that I am today. She taught me how to connect with my patients and to know them as more than just as the disease process they have.  Her excitement for teaching is infectious, and I have found myself modeling her ways by teaching the underclassmen when I am at clinic. She makes every interaction with her rewarding, and her innovative pursuit to further medical education through a 4-year longitudinal primary care experience deserves the highest recognition."

Paul Jansson, then a 4th year student at Northwestern helped present the IAFP's teaching award back in November 2014. At that ceremony, he said, "While her patient- and learner-centered education is fantastic, her character deserves a special mention. Dr. Thomas is undoubtedly the kindest and most caring person I have ever met. The love that she has for her patients is boundless, and her words of encouragement are always at the ready. Her enthusiasm is contagious, brightening the clinic each and every day. I see her as a role model, and it is clear that she is exceptionally deserving of this honor."

PCC Austin Medical Director Dr. Alyssa Jeanne Vest says, “Ever since she was a family medicine resident at West Suburban Medical Center, it has been apparent to all that Alisha is a natural teacher.  She is always able to make teachable moments happen during the patient encounter, which makes it memorable to all students involved in the patient’s care. Her students are choosing to become family physicians because of her."

Dr. Thomas holds certifications in Basic Life Support, Neonatal Resuscitation, Pediatric Life Support and Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO). She graduated from Northwestern University- Feinberg School of Medicine and completed residency training at West Suburban Family Medicine Residency, serving as Chief Resident 2008-09.  

Wanda Filer, MD will present the award to Dr. Thomas at our Illinois chapter annual meeting October 9 in Rosemont. Dr. Filer is currently AAFP President-elect but will be President at the time that she attends the IAFP Annual Meeting.  Learn more and register today for SAMs Workshops, outstanding CME opportunities spanning the family medicine career spectrum from presented throughout the Midwest.