Melissa Ferrari, CAE, ACPM Vice President of Membership and Operations

Building the pipeline. Increasing visibility. Two key challenges that face the specialty of preventive medicine. As an association executive who has invested my career in membership-based organizations, I have been fortunate to have been a part of several different industries and career fields — from neuroscientists to math teachers and more. As I embrace the mission of the College and work to support our members in preventive medicine and public health, there is one statement I have heard repeated several times (let’s say enough times it is worthy of its own article): “I found the specialty by accident!” It seems preventive medicine is a well-kept secret in the medical profession.

If nothing else, the last few years and the intense focus on public health through the pandemic have shown it is time to wake the sleeping giant — it is time to emphasize the power of prevention!

What better place to start than with those individuals who are starting to think about their careers in medicine? ACPM recently (just yesterday!) participated in the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Virtual Specialty Forum, which hosted more than 2,500 students in their first and second year – just beginning their medical school career and specialty exploration – seeking to learn about specialties.

ACPM hosted a virtual booth that highlighted the many career pathways in the specialty, provided insight into the various facets of the specialty through our power of prevention one-pagers, shared key initiatives such as the Vaccine Confident campaign and the Daniel S. Blumenthal Lecture on health equity, pointed to resources such as the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competency program and more!

While each of these resources provides a unique perspective on the many touches of the specialty, the highlight of the 3-hour event was the opportunity for students to engage with ACPM members who represent all corners of the specialty. Special thanks to Drs. Joseph Iser, Samar Muzaffar, Bob Carr, Leith States, and Prasad Acharya who devoted an afternoon to providing insight into preventive medicine and public health — and fielded a plethora of questions from eager students.

Our committed volunteers brought a high level of energy, engaged with each participant visiting the booth, provided meaningful and thoughtful responses, and shined a bright light on the specialty! From lifestyle to challenges facing professionals in the field to a “day in the life of…” to my favorite: “If you have an aversion to _____ (fill in the blank), this specialty is probably not for you.”, the forum was a great opportunity to connect and help the students take the first step in any career journey – building a relationship.

ACPM will continue to take advantage of opportunities to engage with medical students and focus on increasing the visibility and raising the profile of preventive medicine — and shift the selection of the specialty from an “accident” to a planned commitment to supporting and changing population health!

Want to engage in our next outreach to students? Let us know – email me at

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