Missouri LEADS Program

(Leadership, Engagement, and Advocacy Development Scholars)

Missouri Leadership, Engagement, and Advocacy Development Scholars is a leadership development program for Missouri medical school students (LEADS Scholars) to grow in their journey to becoming family physicians. LEADS Scholars will gain experience to enhance their family medicine residency application.  Scholars will easily articulate their experience and growth to support their residency applications while being immersed in the family medicine specialty and exposed to Missouri family medicine residency programs.

Occurring over an academic year, the program is designed for Missouri MS/OMS2 and MS/OMS3 students interested in family medicine.  Limited to ten students, the program will connect top students from each school with the goal of enhancing their family medicine acumen beyond what they are able to learn in an academic setting.  With a desire to have students from each Missouri medical school, it is our priority to have equitable distribution of program participation from every Missouri medical school.

Upon acceptance, LEADS Scholars will participate in a program designed to enhance their leadership skills, provide exposure to MAFP engagement opportunities, and develop advocacy skills.  Key components of the program will include connection with fellow high-performing medical students interested in family medicine, family medicine residencies, philanthropic goals, and involvement in Missouri Academy activities.  Missouri residency directors are anticipated to be present at periodic in-person and virtual meetings to provide residency overviews and critical advice to LEADS Scholars.

It is the hope of MAFP that Missouri LEADS Scholars will further their family medicine development by applying to the AAFP Emerging Leaders Institute supported by the AAFP Foundation. 

Applications Closed

See Eligibility and Application Information Below


MO LEADS is designed for 2nd and 3rd-year medical students at Missouri medical schools with a strong interest in Family Medicine.

The natural matriculation from student to practicing physician includes residency.  One of the primary objectives of this program is to provide the top medical school graduates in the state with additional tools to enhance the likelihood of matching at their top choice residency program in Missouri.  By providing enhanced interaction with Missouri family medicine residency programs and directors, students will increase familiarity and comfort with the programs within the state.

Purpose and Goals

Identify resources students need as they matriculate through medical school and into residency.

Participants will learn how to enhance their curriculum vitae through scholarly activities, volunteer service, and other interactions with practicing physicians and residency programs.

Create an environment within medical schools to develop an interest in family medicine and interscholastic familiarity with like-minded students.

The group will support each other through monthly virtual meetings and ongoing communication facilitated by MAFP.  Each group of students will collectively decide what philanthropic project they will design and execute to support the Family Health Foundation of Missouri or another non-profit as deemed appropriate. Scholars are strongly encouraged to attend the MAFP Advocacy Day and become familiar with advocacy efforts that impact key issues identified by MAFP members such as patient care, scope of practice, and GME funding. MAFP staff will provide guidance, support and facilitation of activities.

Develop the ability to articulate the leadership skills learned as a LEADS Scholar, which are essential to performing well as a family medicine resident.

Participants will receive insight from Residency Directors on applying to family medicine residencies, including how to communicate involvement in this program to provide positive differentiation during the residency application process.  LEADS Scholars will be able to demonstrate this verbally and in writing through assessments.

Develop an understanding of what family physicians do in the course of a normal day’s work and expand appreciation for the depth and breadth of family medicine.

It is anticipated that LEADS Scholars will participate in externships currently administered by MAFP and supported by cooperative funding of the AAFP Foundation and Family Health Foundation of Missouri. LEADS Scholars will also be encouraged to engage with preceptors.

Attract more medical students to family medicine.

MAFP Board leadership has embraced the AAFP’s goal of increasing family physicians by 30% more family physicians by 2030.  Increasing exposure to family medicine opportunities early in the student’s academic career will provide more opportunities to find the moment where they choose family medicine over other specialties or when the specialty calls them.


  • July – September: Market program to Missouri medical schools and current student members. Applications encouraged in all marketing pieces.
  • September – October: Applicants chosen and introductory meeting held.  Introductions, program explanation, and welcome by MAFP volunteer leadership and staff.
  • October – April: Monthly meetings, program progress reports, and learning opportunities on professional/leadership development topics.

Additional details and event attendance opportunities below:

    • October: Class research and philanthropic projects chosen
    • November: Missouri Annual Fall Conference & Board Meeting
    • February: Advocacy Day and Board Meeting
    • April: Philanthropic project completion deadline
    • June: Philanthropic reports at Transition to Practice conference in conjunction with poster contest and board meeting.
    • June: LEADS Scholars experience summaries due to MAFP for publication


    • Must be a member of the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians.
    • Must be in second, third or fourth year of medical school when program begins at the start of the academic year. Ideal candidates are second- or third-year students.
    • Must receive documented pre-approval from medical school dean or department chair for participation in this program
    • Selected recipients must attend the AAFP National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Students in Kansas City in July and one of the following MAFP Meetings. If unable to attend NCFMRS and one of these MAFP events, scholarship will be forfeited and student will not receive recognition for completing the program.
      1. MAFP Advocacy Day (January or February in Jefferson City)
      2. Transition to Practice Conference for Residents and Students (Usually in June, location TBD)
      3. MAFP Annual Fall Conference (11/10-11/11, 2023 at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale; 11/8-11/9, 2024 at InterContinental on the Plaza in Kansas City)
    • Applicant must apply for a Family Medicine Leads Scholarship for National Conference through the AAFP Foundation (currently $600). If applicant applies and is not chosen, MAFP will reimburse travel expenses per policy.
    • MAFP and the Family Health Foundation of Missouri will provide reimbursement for registration expenses, travel expenses, and lodging up to budget maximum and in accordance with MAFP travel expense reimbursement policy for MAFP LEADS Scholars Events.
      1. All travel expenses may not be covered. Additional expenses will be the responsibility of the student although additional funds may be available by contacting your school, Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG), or local chapter for supplemental scholarship(s).
    • Clinical experience is encouraged, but not required
      1. Recipients should explore preceptors through their medical school and/or Missouri AHEC.
      2. Recipients are strongly encouraged to apply for MAFP Summer Externships.
    • LEADS Scholars are required to submit a brief summary of their experience in the program. The summary should include program highlights and how the program increased their understanding of family medicine.
    • Unsuccessful candidates may apply again in subsequent years, provided they still meet all eligibility criteria.

    Complete the application online at: https://moafp.formstack.com/forms/mo_leads_application.

    • Upload a copy of curriculum vitae (CV) or resumé in PDF format.
    • Upload at least one and up to three Letters of Recommendation (LOR) in PDF. This should be written on the applicant’s behalf by someone who knows them well and can provide a clear reason why they would be an excellent candidate for the program. Consider the following:
      1. Faculty, advisor, or other member of current medical school’s Department of Family Medicine
      2. A member of the leadership of Missouri Academy of Family Physicians
      3. A family physician in good standing with the AAFP

    Letters of recommendation must:

    1. Be on letterhead and have a valid signature
    2. Include a date
    3. Describe the letter writer’s relationship to the applicant
    4. Address the letter writer’s belief that the applicant is an “emerging” leader and the evidence to support the belief, including the applicant’s work ethic and interpersonal skills.
      1. Based on letter writer’s knowledge of the applicant, indicate the ability of the applicant to successfully carry out a leadership project in the allotted time.
      2. Comment on any other factors that the letter writer believes may be of value to the review committee.
      3. Note: If the letter doesn’t contain all the information requested, your overall score could be lowered.


      1. Selected recipients will be notified via email.
      2. Selected recipients will have seven calendar days to accept or reject the application before alternate selections of the next highest-scoring applicants may be made.
        1. Priority will be given to ensuring two representatives from each school are selected, and then prioritized based on overall score.
        2. Upon acceptance, recipients will provide a professional headshot to be used for publication.For a successful submission, the online application with all supporting documents (in PDF format) must be completed by the stated application deadline. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the application packet deadline is on the following workday.


      1. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of five MAFP members. Active members of the Education Commission, Member Services Commission, Executive Commission and Student and Resident Board Members will be asked to serve.
      2. A maximum of ten (10) students will be selected in the following hierarchy:
        1. One applicant from each Missouri Medical school receiving the highest average numeric scores will be selected to participate in the MO LEADS program.
        2. Secondary spots will be awarded based on overall average score.