This was successfully posted to your pofile.
This box will close automatically in a few seconds. Close this window
We don't have an e-mail address on file for you. To use AAFP Connection, you must have an e-mail address in our records. Click Here
Four New Medical Schools Welcome Charter Classes
All Seek to Spark Student Interest in Primary Care
By Barbara Bein
The Commonwealth Medical College
All students take their first two years of classes at the Scranton campus and participate in six weeklong community experiences. Their final two years are completed at their assigned campus.
According to D'Alessandri, students' clinical education starts during their first year, when each student is assigned a "continuity mentor" -- a family physician or general internist -- and a family that the student will follow throughout his or her four years of medical school. Students visit their families' homes, conduct interviews and learn about the socioeconomic context of health care and the health care system.
Janet Townsend, M.D., who is founding chair of the college's department of family medicine and community health, told AAFP News Now that her department supports first-year students in carrying out community health projects from their respective regional campuses. Working with a number of primary care physicians and service agency providers in the community, the students launched 15 group projects this past October, she said.
FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine
John Rock, M.D., founding dean and senior VP for medical affairs at the college, said its trademarked Green Family Neighborhood Health Education Learning Program, or Green Family NeighborhoodHELP, offers medical students long-term community-based experiences. Central to NeighborhoodHELP is the college's division of family medicine, whose faculty members mentor the medical students and supervise their community-based clinical experiences.
"It's an immediate introduction to community medicine and a hands-on experience," Rock said. "We will be training students who are interested in primary care. They'll also be culturally sensitive and will celebrate diversity. If they go on to select another specialty, they will have a keen understanding of taking care of patients."
David Brown, M.D., founding chief of family medicine in the college's interdisciplinary department of humanities, health and society, said the dean is committed to having a 10:1 student to family medicine faculty member ratio, which allows faculty members to closely supervise students throughout the four-year family medicine clerkship.
Pipeline Program, Financial Incentives Can Encourage Primary Care Careers
In addition to reaching out to undergraduate institutions, said Dean Robert D'Alessandri, M.D., the medical college wants to expand the pipeline into area high schools and junior high schools.
"We're really focusing on young people who have an interest in the health professions and in serving their community. That's one of the best ways to increase the number of students who will go into primary care and stay and practice in the region," he said.
Another way to increase the number of primary care students is to mitigate student debt as a barrier to entering primary care careers, said D'Alessandri. Through philanthropic donations, the medical college offered scholarships totaling $80,000 -- $20,000 per year -- to each of 65 charter class members.
Thirteen of the 43 students in the charter class of Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami received partial tuition scholarships ranging from $40,000 to $100,000. Another student received a one-year $25,000 renewable scholarship.
The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso gave 25 of its 40 charter students four-year scholarships totaling $60,000. The school also has a loan forgiveness program that allows five students each year to borrow as much as $20,000 annually; annual loans are canceled when graduates return to practice in the region.
Finally, all 41 members of the inaugural class at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando received four-year loan packages totaling $160,000 each.
"We wanted students to follow their passion without worrying about the debt," said Lynn Crespo, Ph.D., assistant dean for undergraduate medical education. "When this class graduates, those who want to go into primary care can do so without worrying about the debt. They can practice the medicine that is in their heart and not because they have to pay off $200,000 in debt."
"By providing students longitudinal experiences in the community from the start and throughout their training, we are encouraging them to consider family medicine and primary care. Those inclined to go into primary care will have the experiences to reinforce their interest. Those who aren't will be prepared and will understand the value of primary care," Brown said.
University of Central Florida College of Medicine
"As our dean, Dr. Deborah German, often says, the students come in three flavors: The first is the Mother Teresas, the students whose goal is to care for people one at a time; the second is the Nobel laureates, the cutting-edge researchers who want to find a cure; the third is the surgeon generals, the students who want to look at health and medicine from a population perspective," Crespo said.
"We want them to get lots of experience talking to patients and examine what is happening in that experience," Crespo said.
Also during their first year, medical students begin an individualized research project, which they present to classmates and faculty members during their second year. The research can involve primary care, public health or the underserved.
For third- and fourth-year students, the medical school offers a 12-week combined internal and family medicine clerkship. Students also can participate in volunteer community service experiences at outreach clinics.
Texas Tech University Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
Among initiatives that encourage students to go into primary care specialties -- especially family medicine -- are FP mentor and adviser programs available during their first year; exposure to clinical and community practices beginning the first month, including pairing students with mentor families; an active family medicine interest group; a rural family medicine preceptorship supported by the Texas AFP; and a longitudinal third- and fourth-year family medicine curriculum, said de la Rosa.
Mary Spalding, M.D., founding chair of the department of family and community medicine, said first-year students are introduced to clinical presentations and community medicine, including working with mentor families' genograms and gaining an understanding of the family life cycle and how it impacts health and well-being.
"The family life cycle is a powerful introduction to primary care and family medicine," Spalding said. "Students understand right from the beginning that a person has environmental accompaniments. It's not just a disease coming through the door."
AAFP's New Physician Workforce Report Represents 'Blueprint for Change'
Report Addresses Planning, Distribution, GME Funding Needs
Primary Care Physician Shortages Can Be Traced Largely to Pipeline Issues, Says FP
New Report Takes In-depth Look at Reasons Behind Low Level of Student Interest in Family Medicine
More From AAFP
Policy on Workforce Reform
"The Patient-Centered Medical Home: History, Seven Core Features, Evidence and Transformational Change"
(32-page PDF; About PDFs)