Illinois Academy to Honor Three Chicago-Area Family Physicians

LISLE, IL--(Marketwire - Nov 5, 2012) - The Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) will honor three outstanding physicians as part of the annual awards program. The IAFP Public Relations Task Force evaluated all the nominees and selected the recipients. Each of these members will be honored at the IAFP annual meeting November 9 at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca. 

What: IAFP Annual Awards Banquet
When: Friday, November 9, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. (awards program begins at 7:30)
Where: Eaglewood Resort and Spa - Red Oak Ballroom
1401 Nordic Road, Itasca, IL 60143

Family Physician of the Year
Kenneth S. Nelson, MD
Prairie Medical Group, Westchester

Dr. Nelson helped found the Prairie Medical Group in west suburban Westchester, which has now expanded to include six family physicians as well as many subspecialists who practice in the same office, providing convenient, state-of-the-art care for their patients. 

He was born and educated in the Chicago area, earning his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School (now Rosalind Franklin University of Health Sciences - Chicago Medical School). He completed his residency training at La Grange Memorial Hospital in 1986, where his father William Nelson is a former program director. He went on to add a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical pharmacology from the University of Chicago in 1988. 

Now he practices in the community where he trained and dedicates his time, energy and passion to serving those in need throughout that extended community. "The fact that every day I wake up, I look forward to going to work. I love helping people. I love helping those in need," says Nelson. "As a family physician, I have the opportunity to do that every day."

For the past two decades, Dr. Nelson has volunteered his services at the LaGrange-based Community Nurse Health Association's (CNHA) free clinic and has served as the clinic's Medical Director since 1992. CNHA's clinic provides primary and specialty care services for about 2,100 underserved residents from the western suburbs of Cook County. CNHA Board member Angela Curran says, "Ken is truly the most energetic and passionate volunteer and volunteer leader that I have ever encountered, and I say that knowing that I have encountered many other truly inspirational volunteers."

Expanding his commitment to volunteer health care, in 2010 Dr. Nelson led an effort to open Illinois borders to volunteer health care providers from other states by initiating HB5744 which was signed into law on June 19, 2010. This led to co-founding the CURE Network (Collaborative Underserved Relief and Education.) Since then, the Cure Network has taken their philosophy "on the road," executing two successful medical missions in the Chicagoland area. The first was held August 19-21, 2011 at Malcolm X College in collaboration with Remote Area Medical out of Knoxville, Tennessee. The most recent mission on June 8-9, 2012 at the Lake County Fairgrounds was coordinated with the Illinois Dental Society's Mission of Mercy.

Dr. Ken Nelson was nominated by his practice partner, who is also his brother, IAFP member Thomas Nelson. Learn more about the 2012 Mission of Mercy at or

2012 Family Medicine Teacher of the Year
Evelyn Figueroa, MD
University of Illinois at Chicago Family Medicine Residency

Evelyn Figueroa, MD joined the family medicine department at UIC College of Medicine in 2005 as an assistant professor and was named associate program director of the affiliated residency program in 2010. Over the past seven years, she's greatly impacted the education and development of fine family physicians in the UIC system. 

Her teaching responsibilities include precepting in the outpatient clinic, inpatient obstetrics, and home visits. Other teaching roles include founding and leading the Obstetrics Teaching Series and Medical Spanish, as well as lead faculty in the Women's Health Series.

All these activities are essential in meeting Figueroa's own goals for family medicine's future. "Currently, 20% of family physicians deliver babies and less than 20% do colposcopy and women's health procedures. My goal is to train more providers in women's health and maternity care. I am committed to ensuring that my residents receive the women's health training they seek."

"UIC residents are inspired by her example, encouraged by the confidence she has in them, and motivated not only to meet her high expectations but to raise that even bar higher," said former UIC resident Douglas Pepple, MD. "More than anything, I have personally experienced and witnessed the mentoring that Dr. Figueroa offers to those under her tutelage... I have noticed the way that medical students are excited and lifted up by her passionate and encouraging instruction. I can only hope to touch others' lives half as much as she has mine."

Distinguished Service Award
This award honors an IAFP member who "best exemplifies service and the mission of the family physician throughout his or her medical career." It is given at the discretion of the IAFP Public Relations Task Force, and commends exceptional individual effort. IAFP last bestowed this award in 2006.

Paul S. Luning, MD, PCC Wellness in Oak Park
Paul Luning, MD has been Chief Medical Officer at PCC Community Wellness Center in Oak Park since 2007. He joined on at PCC as a resident in 1996 and has helped shape the independent, 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization and Federally Qualified Health Center over the years ( PCC has grown to encompass nine health centers that offer comprehensive care and support services, serving nine Chicago Community Areas (CCAs) on the west side, and the near west suburbs. Luning is also associate program director of West Suburban Family Medicine Residency program, where he also completed his residency training. 

Patient Angela James wrote a support letter for Dr. Luning where she said, "Words cannot express my deepest feelings for him as my primary care physician. He is an outstanding doctor as he's my angel in health care."

Luning established the Interfaith House Clinic for the Homeless at a shelter in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago, providing housing for homeless adults recovering from injury and illness. Thanks to his tireless dedication PCC now provides full scope preventive health care to homeless patients in that clinic five days a week.

Former West Suburban resident and current medical director of PCC Lake Street Kimi Suh, MD shares the impact Luning had on her practice choices. "His compassion towards the underserved was my first introduction into the world of primary care which inspired me not only to choose family medicine as my career, but also pursue a career in underserved medicine. Dr. Luning and his wife, Angela, and their two children live in Chicago.

EDITORS NOTE: More information on each of the four awards honorees is on our web site at

Founded in 1947, the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) is a professional medical society of over 4,200 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students interested in family medicine. IAFP is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians representing over 105,000 members. Our web site is and you can follow us on Twitter @IllinoisAFP.