Honnie Spencer, MD ’90, a family physician in Mooresville, North Carolina, has achieved the Degree of Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). She was awarded this degree during a convocation on October 28, 2023, in conjunction with the AAFP’s annual meeting in Chicago.
Established in 1971, the AAFP Degree of Fellow recognizes family physicians who have distinguished themselves through service to family medicine and ongoing professional development. Criteria are a minimum of six years of membership in the AAFP, extensive continuing medical education, participation in public service programs outside the medical practice, conducting original research, and serving as a teacher in family medicine. Spencer has also been awarded this honor by the local North Carolina Chapter of the AAFP.
It is a remarkable achievement to have earned this degree. Most doctors don’t qualify. Fellows are seen as experts in their field, and Spencer, without a doubt, belongs in that class.
She has been a member of the AAFP for 30 years. As a family physician, she works primarily as a hospitalist serving whatever hospital system requires extra help because they are short-staffed. “Since COVID, many hospitals are short-staffed,” says Spencer. The period of work with a particular hospital could be six months or several years. “I often work at night, admitting and managing patients. They might have had a heart attack or be suffering from pneumonia,” says Spencer. “I also work in intensive care, managing the sickest of the sick.”
From 1997 to 2012, Spencer was a faculty member with Atrium Health’s Cabarraus Family Medicine Residency in Charlotte, North Carolina, teaching and mentoring students who want to become family physicians.
An AAFP Fellowship entitles the physician to use the honorary designation Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians (FAAFP). “For me, this is the most important reward of the fellowship,” says Spencer. “When I respond to a position with a hospital, it tells those people that I’m expert. Hospitals see that they are getting quality.”
The AAFP is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care, and members are quite proud to support this group of physicians. “In the increasingly fragmented world of health care where many medical specialties limit their practice to a particular organ, disease, age or sex, family physicians are dedicated to treating the whole person across the full spectrum of ages,” says the AAFP. “Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.”
And for her chosen vocation and outstanding achievement, Moravian University is very proud of Honnie Spencer.