“As the Founding Residency Director of a new FM program, I have the substantial responsibility to recruit excellent medical students for our program to ultimately become outstanding residents…in a place where we have no history to promote our success. Honestly, this is a daunting task; one that I have prayed much about since the day I accepted this position.

However, before the search for such residents could commence, my goal was to hire a diverse, exceptional faculty across the spectrums of age, experience, aptitude, and backgrounds. I believe that with GRMC’s full support, that aspiration has been accomplished. The faculty biographies on this website attest to their individual merit and collective quality. What may not be obvious (to those who do not know them) are the 3 principal qualities that I pursued in hiring this core group: courage, character, and compassion. These essential characteristics are the same attributes that I pursue when recruiting residents for GRMC Family Medicine.


It takes a unique and courageous individual to seek to be a part of something from its inception. It requires the courage to build with a vision, but not an absolute blueprint. It demands a special courage to walk by faith and not by sight, recognizing that all you do will be the foundation for others for years to come. All great and honorable undertakings were brought about by a courageous few who were willing to build from the ground up, understanding the significant responsibility and trust placed in them as founders and pioneers of a future yet to be determined.


The courage we seek, especially in our first groups of residents, can only be born out of a refined and mature character. We need those who choose to see the value in personal sacrifice and selflessness, walking and serving together towards our vision of outstanding residency education and patient care outcomes. We need those who speak, seek, and require honesty and integrity in speech, in action, in evaluation and feedback. Despite evidence to the contrary in our world today, exceptional character matters. We strive, by God’s grace, to be such people and seek others who are of similar mindset. We pursue those who recognize the need for flexibility of plan without compromise of purpose.


Compassion is a frequently misused and misinterpreted word. Compassion is not feeling; it is action borne out of love, understanding, and a desire to alleviate suffering. As physicians over our careers, we have a great capacity for observed anguish; however, the truest alleviation of suffering involves whole-person care-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. True compassion for the needy, our patients who seek care and support (and sometimes those who do not), necessitates courage and character. That is why I listed compassion last. Recognizing, addressing, and seeking liberation for all manner of human distress requires unselfish motivation and overcoming our fears; however, those who choose this path unearth extraordinary experiences (see our bios), unequaled satisfaction and lifelong purpose.

The core FM faculty at this residency program choose to live by these truths. We are praying, seeking, and believing that there are students, like you, reading and contemplating these realities for a residency experience. Take time to read our biographies. Read our mission statement and goals. We have the knowledge, commitment, experience, and desire to bring exceptional Family Medicine education and clinical patient care to Northeast Alabama. Our aspiration is to graduate and dispatch these superb Family Medicine physicians in our community and around the world. Do you have the courage, character, and compassion to build, in partnership with others like you, a foundational structure for the success and advancement of a program you made possible? Do these ideals resonate with you? If so, we want to meet and discuss our program and these possibilities with you.”

With joyful anticipation,

M. Shawn Morehead MD, MPH, FAAFP
Founding Program Director

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