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Peer Perspectives: Allison Ruff, MD, MHPE

Allison RuffWhat is your current position?

Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Michigan.

Why did you choose internal medicine?

I was a late decider both in medical school and again when I became a general internal medicine physician. I spent so much of training looking for the thing that would “call to me,” only to realize that I had already found what I loved! As a general internal medicine physician, I practice the kind of medicine that I witnessed growing up—solving complex problems while caring for the community in which I live.

When residents transition out of training into private practice, they often feel more isolated than when they were surrounded by other residents going through the same experience. Did you feel the same way coming out of training? If so, how did you overcome that transition and/or how did you connect with other physicians?

I definitely felt this way! Going through school and residency, you have built-in friendships and connections that are not there when you get your first “grown-up job.” When I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, it was challenging to make connections when everyone else in my practice was established and many were at a different stage in their personal lives as well. I reached out to other new lady docs in my department and we formed a peer-mentorship group for women. It took time for me to make those connections with my colleagues and, as a result, I now make it a point to reach out to new faculty right away to make them, and their families, feel connected.

What do you want to accomplish professionally within the next 5 years?

Over the next 5 years, I am hoping to become more involved in ACP leadership on a national level, specifically working to incorporate programming for physicians with young families. I am also hoping to continue to build experiences for outpatient learners in internal medicine at the University of Michigan!

Can you share a brief (and anonymous) patient encounter or professional situation that made you proud to be an internal medicine physician?

I recently wrote an article in my local paper about the effect of gun violence on physicians in practice, which I followed up with a perspective in Journal of General Internal Medicine. One of my patients read the article in the paper and wrote me a letter thanking me for my advocacy. As an internal medicine physician, I am able to advocate for my patients both in the exam room and in a larger way, which helps me know I am able to make a difference in our community!