Family Medicine Alumni Spotlight: Anne Marie Williams

June 14, 2019

Perspectives in Primary Care (formally the Primary Care Review) features perspectives from practitioners and students representing organizations, practices, and institutions across the country and around the world. All opinions expressed in this article are owned by the author(s).

The Harvard Home for Family Medicine builds upon the growing community of HMS family medicine students, residents, and attendings engaged in family medicine education, research, and mentorship opportunities.  While most of our more active participants are based within the Harvard system, our Harvard Medical School students often graduate to residencies further afield. In this series, we’re thrilled to spotlight what some of our recent HMS Family Medicine students have gone on to achieve.

Name: Anne Marie Williams

HMS graduation year: 2017

Residency: Swedish First Hill Family Medicine

What accomplishments are you most proud of since entering medical school?

I’m proud of the advocacy work I did in medical school in strengthening the progressive health professional community in Boston as well as working for better treatment for people with substance use disorder, and I’m proud that I chose family medicine and made the choice that was right for me despite others casting doubt on that choice. I’m proud of the procedural skills I am gaining in residency that I wouldn’t have gained in another speciality, and for working with very marginalized medically complex groups of patients.

What are your future plans?

I’m looking in to some global health options for after residency, and eventually want to find a job where I can combine community underserved primary care, family planning and abortion care, and low risk obstetrics.  

How did you decide that FM was for you?  It was the only speciality where I could really combine all my passions, holistic care, psychiatry, obstetrics, family planning, addiction medicine.

What’s the best thing about your residency? What I have liked most about Swedish, the hospital, is that we are respected as family medicine doctors, and that as a community hospital we get to interact directly with specialists who are eager to teach us. I also really love that our patient population in the hospital comes from our community-based clinics which are also some of the lowest barrier clinics in the region so we get to serve a really wonderful diverse population with complex needs.

My continuity clinic is a public health clinic and the majority of our patients are some combination of uninsured/experiencing homelessness/struggling with substance use. All the non-physician staff in our clinic have worked for years or decades in the public health sector and have a wealth of experience and a true commitment to the community. I have never found an environment that makes it so easy to develop friendships across educational hierarchy and to learn from a position of vulnerability as I have found at this program, and it has been such a great way to learn through residency.

What are the most important things that HMS needs to do to support students interested in FM?

I am grateful for the folks at HMS who helped me find models of family medicine that matched with what I was looking for, including setting up away rotations in Shiprock and getting to see family medicine docs doing obstetrics at the Cambridge Health Alliance Cambridge Hospital. I think we need to reach more students early in med school to encourage primary care, and also find a way to show more people interested in primary care the strengths of family medicine.

What advice do you have for current HMS students about FM or anything else?

Seek out family medicine models of what you are looking for early on, and don’t let people intimidate you away from choosing family medicine.

Want to learn more about family medicine at Harvard Medical School? Visit the Harvard Home for Family Medicine today! 


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