A Primary Care Checklist for Medical Schools

How to Determine If a Medical School Promotes Primary Care

Medical schools vary in their emphasis and approach to including primary care in their overall curriculum. If you're interested in family medicine, you'll want to look for programs with characteristics and courses of study that support your future direction.

Here are seven indicators that you can look for during your research and interviews with medical schools to gain insight into the role of primary care in the education they offer.

1. School Mission

  • Medical school has a stated mission for primary care or care of the underserved
  • Medical school knows how many of their graduates go into family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics

2. Admissions and Programs

The medical school includes:

  • Pre-admissions programs in primary care/family medicine
  • Pre-admissions programs in rural medicine/urban medicine/underserved medicine
  • A regional campus dedicated to primary care
  • Family medicine faculty within the admissions committee

3. Infrastructure

The medical school has a department structure that includes:

  • Family and community medicine
  • Internal medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Preventive medicine (may be associated with another department)

4. Curriculum

The medical school has a:

  • Required family medicine clerkship (at least 4 weeks)
  • Required rural clerkship (at least 4 weeks)
  • Required longitudinal family medicine experience
  • Structured (selective) summer experience in primary care between the first and second year
  • Family medicine “scholars” program, or dedicated primary care track for students interested in family medicine as a career choice, that includes faculty support, meeting times, scholarships, or honors associated with it
  • Family medicine faculty present in the teaching of core first- and second-year classes
  • Formal curriculum that addresses and teaches about the patient centered medical home (PCMH)

5. Electives

  • Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG) is active on campus
  • Faculty advisor for FMIG can be easily identified
  • Medical school has a student-run free health clinic (usually outpatient primary care)
  • Medical school offers a global health experience
  • Medical school provides a faculty mentor in a primary care field

6. Financial

  • Financial aid office promotes primary care scholarships
  • State has a primary care loan/tuition reimbursement or scholarship program
  • What is the cost of tuition?
  • What is the average debt of students as they graduate from this medical school?

7. Community Physicians Have a Role in the Medical School

  • Teaching/preceptors/admissions
  • Community health project is required for all students
Top Ten Award for Family Medicine

Top Producing Medical Schools

Each year, the AAFP recognizes the top ten medical schools with the most graduates accepted into a family medicine residency program. These schools represent the best of the best in contributing to the pipeline of future family physicians.