Chu receives Degree of Fellow from AAFP

Dr. Ronnie Chu of Demopolis recently attended a convocation in Philadelphia, Pa. where he was awarded the Degree of Fellow by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“You have to be a board certified family practice doctor, practicing for a while. And it shows that you continue the upkeep on your continuing education to show that you are promoting family practice, promoting the health of patients,” Chu, who was one of only four doctors from the state of Alabama to receive the degree this year, said. “There is teaching involved to residents, doctors and also medical students. They grade you on a point scale. If you fulfill all that, then you become a fellow.”

The degree is awarded to a select group of physicians who have distinguished themselves within their local communities and the medical community through the maintenance of a well-rounded practice.

“The Degree of Fellow recognizes AAFP members who have distinguished themselves among their colleagues, as well as in their communities, by their service to Family Medicine, by their advancement of health care to the American people and by their professional development through medical education and research. Fellows of the AAFP are recognized as Champions of Family Medicine,” the academy’s website – – says regarding the importance distinction. “They are the physicians who make family medicine the premier specialty in service to their community and profession. From a personal perspective, being a Fellow signifies not only ‘tenure’ but one’s additional work in your community, within organized medicine, within teaching, and a greater commitment to continuing professional development and/or research.”

The process of achieving the distinction is an arduous one. Chu, who has been in family practice for approximately 15 years, received his degree at the same time as one of his former mentors.

“Lots of times, it is five, 10, 15 or 20 years. My residency advisor when I was a second-year resident, I went and met her and she just got her fellowship this year,” Chu said.

While Chu certainly takes pride in having received the honor, he said he is most proud of the work being done by those in his clinic as well as other local doctors Maurice Fitz-Gerald, Alex Curtis and Gerald Hodge.

“When they knew we still deliver babies, doing scopes, seeing patients, taking care of hearts, lungs, seeing geriatrics and everything else, they wanted us to come back and talk to their residents,” Chu said, pointing to doctors who tend to the broad spectrum of medical issues that arise for family physicians. “You really need four to five doctors for one of us.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians is the national association of family doctors. It is one of the largest national medical organizations, with more than 105,900 members in 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam, as well as internationally. Until Oct. 3, 1971, it was known as the American Academy of General Practice. The name was changed in order to reflect more accurately the changing nature of primary health care. The AAFP was founded in 1947 to promote and maintain high quality standards for family doctors who are providing continuing comprehensive health care to the public.