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Family Medicine Interest Group

The Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) provides students with opportunities to learn about the breadth of family medicine, resources to develop their career interests and avenues to engage the Penn State College of Medicine and broader community through service and advocacy. 

The group values its long-standing relationships with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, and connects students with the vast resources available through those groups.



FMIG sponsors several community service projects, including the annual Dash For Diabetes, Tar Wars and an Advanced Directives program currently being initiated.

The group also sponsors a variety of networking and educational programs throughout the year. These programs include monthly residency dinners and differential diagnosis lunch lectures, as well as the annual Primary Care Day.

Residency dinners

The residency dinners grant FMIG students the opportunity to talk with physicians and residents for various Pennsylvania family medicine residency programs over a relaxing dinner at a local restaurant. Additionally, the residency program has a short presentation for the students, usually in the form of a lecture or game, on topics related to family medicine. Topics that have been presented in the past include Medical Jeopardy, Immunizations, Bioterrorism, Opportunities in Family Medicine and others. These dinners serve to provide the students with insight into residency in general as well as the specifics of the presenting program.

Differential diagnosis lunch lectures

Differential diagnosis lunch lectures are sponsored and presented by the affiliated Family and Community Medicine Residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the Good Samaritan residency program in Lebanon, Pa. Residents from the program come to campus and provide a 45 min interactive case presentation related to recent coursework of either the first- or second-year class. These lectures almost always prove to be a good review of upcoming exam material.

Tar Wars

Tar Wars is a nationally recognized educational program designed to educate elementary students about being tobacco-free, provide the students with the tools necessary to make well-educated positive decisions regarding their health, and to encourage the students to take a personal responsibility for their well-being.

Tar Wars began in Denver, Colo., during a Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Colorado meeting in 1988 and in its first year it reached 7,000 Denver children. Since then, the American Academy of Family Physicians has been instrumental in the implementation of the program nationwide, and acquired full ownership and operation of Tar Wars in 2000.

At Penn State College of Medicine, the program is operated by three student coordinators. The group visits various local elementary schools to discuss the effects of cigarette smoking with fourth and fifth grade students. The College of Medicine Tar Wars program reaches more students annually than any other Tar Wars program in Pennsylvania.

For details or to volunteer, contact Liz Nguyen at, My-Le Nguyen at or John Wiersch at

Advanced Directives

Imagine something terrible happened to you (say a car accident, or drowning), and you suffered a devastating anoxic brain injury. You become unable to communicate, could not have meaningful interactions with others, and had no capacity to feel pain or pleasure. After remaining in this condition for several months, your physicians diagnose you as being in a persistent vegetative state, with no chance of recovery. Even so, with supportive medical care, you could live for 20 to 30 years in this condition. Under this circumstance, what would you want for yourself? Would you want all medical treatment stopped? Would you prefer that all treatments be continued indefinitely? Or, would you prefer some intermediate?

Many people have a rough idea of some of the treatments they would want and would not want, but those ideas are never communicated with the people who matter the most: family, friends and primary care physicians. This lack of communication can result from fear of the topic, lack of knowledge about the issues, lack of time or some other issue. Also, although most people know something about living wills, there is much misunderstanding about just what advance directives are and how they work.

In an effort to better educate the community about options available for end-of-life care, the Family Medicine Interest Group has been working with the Humanities department at Penn State College of Medicine to revive the Advance Directives project. This project serves to promote public understanding of the ethical, personal and social aspects regarding advance directives, and to promote personal reflection about values and concerns covered in advance directives.

Through this project, medical students and other members of the Hershey Medical Center community provide a short 45-minute seminar to interested local groups (churches, organizations and other such groups). The presenters are trained to give the presentation as well as answer basic questions regarding end-of-life care planning. The group hopes that this presentation will encourage people to discuss their desires with their family, friends and/or physicians.

For details, contact Advanced Directives chairs Hessam Afshari at, Melissa Coleman at or Lindsay Lipinski at

Membership Benefits

  • Free membership to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
  • Free subscription to American Family Physician, official magazine of AAFP
  • Free membership to the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP)
  • Interaction with other medical students, faculty and physicians
  • Learn about family medicine residency programs