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AAFP Names Top Physician, Humanitarian and Public Health Advocates

Thursday, October 1, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Five family physicians honored for outstanding contributions to Family Medicine

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kristin Pitts
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5221

DENVER — The American Academy of Family Physicians announced the recipients of its most prestigious awards this week at its annual meeting. Five family physicians from across the nation were recognized for their outstanding contributions to family medicine and the health of the public.

Each of these awards recognize family physicians who have made exceptional advances in furthering the health of their communities through service and education.

• Maureen E. Murphy, MD, of Concord, North Carolina, was named the national 2016 Family Physician of the Year. The award honors one outstanding family physician who provides patients with compassionate, comprehensive care, and serves as a role model in his or her community, to other health professionals, and to residents and medical students.

Murphy began her career as a television reporter in Joplin, Missouri, in the early 1970s, and later became a public relations professional in the Kansas City area. It was in 1978, while working as a public relations specialist for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, that she discovered her life calling to become a family physician. As she researched and wrote about the specialty of family medicine, she developed such a strong belief in its tenets that it motivated her to change careers. She re-enrolled in college to complete the necessary science courses, took the Medical College Admission Test, and was accepted at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Murphy graduated in 1985 with her medical degree and an award for Outstanding Student in Family Practice.

Throughout her career, Murphy has established herself as a highly respected, clinically adept and dependable source of care for thousands of patients. Most importantly, at a time when the United States faces a primary care physician shortage, her leadership contributions and passion for teaching have inspired many young people to learn about the role of organized medicine in medical education. In 2011, Murphy’s passion for teaching brought her to Cabarrus Family Medicine in Concord, North Carolina, where she continues to mentor the next generation of family physicians and provide care to patients of all ages.

Theodore Wymyslo, MD, FAAFP, a family physician from Gahanna, Ohio, was awarded the Public Health Award. The honor recognizes individuals who have made or are making extraordinary contributions to the health of the American public.

Wymyslo is the chief medical officer for the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, and the former director of health for the Ohio Department of Health. Wymyslo has established himself as a leader in his community and a powerful advocate for patient-centered medical care.

As the chief medical officer of the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, Wymyslo works with 43 community health centers to improve quality of care, control costs and expand the patient-centered medical care model. This work has a direct impact on the health of Ohioans, as the community health centers provide primary and preventive are to all patients, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

• Michael Obiekwe, MD, a family physician at Atlanta Ropheka Medical Center in Riverdale, Georgia, was awarded the AAFP’s Humanitarian Award. The Humanitarian Award honors extraordinary and enduring humanitarian efforts by AAFP members, both within and beyond the borders of the United States.

Obiekwe is the president and founder of Arms of Care International, a nonprofit medical organization that serves the underserved both locally and internationally, mainly in Africa. Established in 2004, Arms of Care International works with health care professionals, hospitals, public and private clinics and international health organizations to eradicate infectious diseases and chronic illnesses through screening, education and treatment.

Obiekwe has led medical missions to Burundi, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sierre Leone and Zimbabwe. Even in conflict zones, he is committed to helping transform disadvantaged communities one individual at a time.

• Nathan Newman, MD, MBA, a family physician in Orange Park, Florida, received the Robert Graham Physician Executive Award. This award is reserved for AAFP members whose executive skills in health care organizations have contributed to excellence in the provision of high quality health care, and demonstrated that family physicians can have an impact on improving the overall health of the nation.

Newman is the national urgent care medical director and vice president of medical operations at Concentra, Inc. Concentra is the largest urgent care organization in the United States, with more than 1,300 physicians at 300 urgent care centers in 43 states, and an operating budget of $1.2 billion. Throughout his career, Newman has balanced his business acumen and clinical knowledge to promote constant innovation.

• Macaran Baird, MD, MS, a family physician in Saint Paul, Minnesota, received the Thomas W. Johnson Award. The award recognizes people who have made outstanding contributions to family medicine education in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education spheres.

Baird currently serves as professor and head of the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. He has contributed more than 30 years toward the advancement of family medicine education on local, regional and national stages. Baird’s teaching awards include the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians Merit and President’s Awards, and the prestigious University of California J. Edward Beck Distinguished Teaching Medal. Among Baird’s influential national roles was as president of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and chair of its Foundation.

Editor’s Note: To arrange an interview with any of the award winners, please contact Kristin Pitts at (800) 274-2237, ext. 5221 or

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 120,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care. 

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 214 million visits annually -- 48 percent more than to the next  most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,