Leaders Are Created By Mentors
They say that you are the composition of every person that you have met in your life. Well, I can say that my leadership self is the composition of all the family medicine mentors who have influenced me since medical school. My name is Mike Sevilla, MD, and this is my family medicine story.
I have been a proud member of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians (OAFP) for more than 20 years, going all the way back to my medical school days at the Northeast Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM), now called the Northeast Ohio Medical University. One of my first memories at an OAFP meeting was the suturing workshop where I clearly did not know what I was doing.
In those early Academy years, I remember a family medicine mentor, Anthony Costa, MD, who was the faculty advisor for the Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) at NEOUCOM. I started learning about “organized medicine” from Dr. Costa and why being involved with the OAFP was so important. I was intrigued about the organizational aspect, but, I admit, at the time, I was more fascinated with the hands-on workshops, especially as a young medical student, and would do anything to get away from the books for a while.
Dr. Costa invited me, and challenged me, to go to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students (National Conference). He told me there were several hands-on workshops, but also encouraged me to attend the advocacy and policy-making sessions of the conference. He inspired me so much that I applied and was accepted into his family medicine residency program at the Barberton Citizens Hospital, formerly known as Summa Barberton, in Akron, OH.
During those early years in medical school, I crossed paths with another family medicine mentor who really changed the course of my leadership and advocacy, Ross Black, MD. I remember during some of my first OAFP events that Dr. Black took the time to individually talk to all the medical students. At the time, I was really questioning in my mind whether being a family physician in a full-time, private practice was a realistic career choice for me.
Dr. Black invited me to shadow him at his office along with joining him during his nursing home rounds. Those conversations and experiences I had with Dr. Black really solidified my calling in family medicine to be a part of a small-group, independent practice. I have been working at the Family Practice Center of Salem for over 15 years now. Dr. Black also inspired me (and challenged me) to expand my leadership potential by running for my first AAFP office at the National Conference.
I started my national leadership career by being elected the AAFP resident delegate to the AAFP Congress of Delegates. My AAFP leadership legacy continues today as chair of the AAFP Commission on Membership and Member Services. More recently, I met a family medicine mentor, through a mutual interest and fascination with technology, Gary LeRoy, MD. I first met Dr. LeRoy at an OAFP event talking with other OAFP members about the latest Apple technology. Being a fellow Apple geek, I definitely had to join in on this conversation. Now, at meetings, Dr. Leroy and I compare notes on our favorite Apple products.
However, as I have had more and more conversations with Dr. Leroy, I have learned more about his deep passion for his patients, and his deep passion for family medicine. Even though my passion is full-time clinical medicine, I have learned so much from Dr. Leroy about the often times complicated world of medical education. And now, I have a deeper appreciation for my medical education colleagues through my conversations with him. Dr. LeRoy continues to inspire and challenge me in ways to deliver better care to underserved populations in my community.
It’s hard to believe that this is the 70th year of the OAFP. I’d like to thank the Academy and many other family medicine mentors who were not named, but have influenced me throughout the years. My goal is to “Pay It Forward” in hopes to inspire and empower this generation and the next generation of family medicine leaders. Cheers to 70 Years, OAFP!
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