GAFP Members Recognized at Annual Meeting for 2017 Contributions to Family Medicine

At the GAFP Annual Scientific Assembly in October at the Westin Buckhead, several individuals were awarded GAFP top honors.

2017 Family Medicine Physician of the Year

Samuel “Le” Church, MD

The highest award bestowed on a GAFP member recognizes excellence in peer leadership in professional affairs and outstanding contributions to family medicine and to the community.  The 2017 Family Medicine Physician of the Year awardee is Dr. Le Church.

As a licensed and board‐certified family physician for the past 17 years, Dr. Church has worked in the rural setting for the majority of his career. Caring for complex patients in the ambulatory, emergency and inpatient settings, he holds numerous additional certifications as well as his Master’s in Public Health. He is the Medical Director of Mountain Home Nursing and Regency Hospice, and serves as provider for child sexual assault evaluations for 8 counties.  Dr. Church serves on numerous community boards, as volunteer physician for public school sports teams, and as a soccer and wrestling coach.

In addition, Dr. Church precepts medical school students who describe him as an outstanding example to each, an exceptional teacher, and an all-around caring physician and community leader.  He is described as investing much time and effort in each of his students during their rotation with him and they, in turn, appreciate him all the more for it.

2017 Family Medicine Educator of the Year

John R. Bucholtz, DO

Awarded to a member dedicated to teaching, mentoring and educating to help advance the specialty of family medicine.

Dr. Bucholtz has a local and national reputation in family medicine education, as is evident in his work at the Columbus Regional Family Medicine Residency Program where he has been Program Director as well as Director of Medical Education since 1993, roles he fills concurrently with lecturing at Martin Army Community Hospital in Ft. Benning, where he also attended residency, served as flight surgeon and was assistant director of their family medicine department prior to becoming associate director at Columbus Regional.

Among his residents and physician colleagues at Columbus Regional, Dr. Bucholtz is well respected, admired and considered to be a mentor to many, as demonstrated by his colleagues and residents.  Comments from his residents include that he encourages input from both students and residents, and makes each feel like equally important and individual parts of the team.  He trusts that they will do the best they can for patients, he appreciates their work, and he values each of them.  He has excellent medical knowledge and bedside patient skills.

2017 Resident of the Year

Chetan Patel, MD
Awarded to the resident who exhibits dedication to family medicine through leadership and involvement in his residency program and in the community.

Dr. Patel graduated from the Columbus Family Medicine Residency Program in July and was involved in many Academy activities, including the Georgia Academy’s Board of Directors, several committee and the legislative working group.  In 2016, he served as an Alternate Resident Delegate to the American Academy of Family Physicians Congress of Delegates and Resident Delegate in 2017.


2017 Keith Ellis MD Resident Award

Mary Keith, MD

Dr. Keith served as Chief Resident at the Savannah Family Medicine Residency Program and was one of the first medical students in the Family Medicine Accelerated Track at Mercer University School of Medicine.  According to her Program Director, Dr. Robert Pallay, she helped the program become a success because of her leadership and role modeling of the specialty of family medicine.

Mary has been a member of the GAFP since she was a medical student, and hopes to continue to be a dedicated GAFP member for years to come. She is from Georgia, and entered practice this summer in rural Georgia.  Again, according to Dr. Pallay, Mary has been one of the best Chief Residents in the residency’s history, and that is in large part due to her natural leadership ability.


2017 Georgia Department of Public Health Award for Family Physicians

Jonathan Lynch, MD

The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians (GAFP) in partnership with the Department of Public Health (DPH) gives this award to a chapter member who has supported Georgia’s mothers and children above and beyond the routine scope of family medicine. The 2017 Public Health awardee is Dr. Jonathan Lynch.

Dr. Lynch has been practicing Family Medicine with Obstetrics in Cairo, Georgia for the last nine years. He is the Medical Director of First Option Care, a comprehensive outreach clinic for mothers with unplanned pregnancies and limited resources. In addition to his busy private practice, he is on full-time medical staff at Grady General Hospital where he admits adult, obstetric and pediatric patients, and is currently serving as the Chief of Staff.

In addition, Dr. lynch serves in many other capacities throughout the community including being the team physician for Cairo High School football, serving as clinical faculty for medical students as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistant students, and is also active in his church. He and his wife (also a family physician) have four beautiful children, and they continue to make a difference in Cairo, Ga and the entire region.