As Family Physicians, strong supporters of structural change in healthcare, and the Family Medicine Department of the 8th most socially conscious medical school in the country we are not content to sit on the sidelines and wait to see “what form health care takes.” The Department has undertaken several initiatives that help us to demonstrate to students the full impact an engaged family medicine team can make in the health of a community. I sat down with each of the faculty over the past month and asked them to brief me on how these initiatives are progressing. Below I have chosen to highlight three of these initiatives:
First, at the entry level into medical school and throughout the preclinical year, it is important to identify those students interested in being a family physician. Dr Carol Motley is working with the 1st and 2nd year students (and lower) to develop an early interest in Family Medicine. I had the privilege of attending the organizational meeting for the Family Medicine Interest Group and was pleased to see the level of commitment and enthusiasm. The group will offer additional instruction for those interested in Family Medicine as well as an opportunity to interact with peers who share this interest. One of the things our specialty has done well is developed an infrastructure to assist departments such as ours in developing and maintaining interest. However, without dedicated students it doesn’t make much difference. I am excited to see committed, engaged students who want to be someone’s doctor.
Second, the medical students have a very intense clinical year where they learn the basics of clinical medicine and determine which type of doctor they want to be. Dr Ehab Molokhia has transformed our educational experience for our third year students. He has chosen to emphasize the Patient Centered Medical Home as his core curriculum. To that end, all of the educational activities that are not patient focussed targeted to teaching the students about what advantage a Patient Centered approach would bring to the patient in the exam room and collective ly to all te patients served by a Patient Centered practice. In addition, he is using actors to demonstrate effective care of the patient with chronic conditions to the learners. The evaluations are very good and the criticism that Family Physicians only take care of minor illnesses is being debunked.
Thirdly, it is important that we model care unique to the new model of Family Medicine. Dr Shyla Reddy, our resident geriatrician, is delivering care to elderly in a clinic without walls. She is partnering with the Mobile Housing Board to deliver care on site to elderly, home-bound residents in one of the need based elderly housing units. She will be using our electronic health record, practice resources, and resources from the community to allow seniors living in the complex to “age in place.” What she has found so far is that the residents of this complex (like elderly everywhere) are plagued by poorly coordinated care that often results in poorer health. She will make a real difference as will the rest of the team.
The faculty who work with me (I consider myself to be a member of their team, although I do get to set tone and direction) are dedicated to the delivery of high-end primary care. They are now finding ways to instruct students in these new methods of care delivery and model this care delivery to the populations who need it the most. This is happening in almost every College of Medicine with a Family Medicine department in the country. These are exciting times.