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Am Fam Physician. 2002;65(10):1976

This issue's cover article on acute bronchitis (page 2039), by Doug Knutson, M.D., and Chad Braun, M.D., represents the first in a series of “Practical Therapeutics” contributions from the Department of Family Medicine at Ohio State University School of Medicine and Public Health, Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Knutson, assistant professor of family medicine, also serves as guest editor of the series.

According to Dr. Knutson, faculty members writing for the series had the goal of creating practical guidelines with the hope that family physicians could walk away with something in their pocket to use. Article topics were selected according to the faculty members' areas of expertise and developed on the basis of extensive literature reviews, with a focus on evidence-based medicine. Upcoming topics in the series include migraine, thyroid nodule, benign prostatic hypertrophy, heat-related illness, chemical dependence, and croup.

Since 1974, when the Department of Family Medicine was established at Ohio State University, the focus of the department and faculty has been on developing tools for mentoring predoctoral medical students and encouraging leadership in family medicine.

By 1980, faculty in the department were giving regular lectures and providing clinical correlates for first- and second-year students. The Executive Curriculum Committee invited department faculty members to design a curriculum for teaching physical examination techniques. Through the years, this role has expanded, and recently Department members have developed an interactive Web-based course that allows students to use physical examination techniques on virtual patients. Next year the department will offer this physical examination course to the entire medical student body.

In 1981, the department was awarded a federal predoctoral training grant to develop a transitional curricular component of medical school. The component was designed to stimulate interest in family medicine as a career, and the success of the training experience led to incorporation of elements into an introductory course in clinical medicine. In 1986, the department began offering a third-year clerkship in family medicine, which was later expanded into a three-month ambulatory clerkship. The fourth-year curriculum now requires a sub-internship in primary care and offers family medicine electives such as sports medicine, rural medicine, and advanced family medicine.

Last year, one of the department's faculty members was appointed director of the medical humanities program. The department has also initiated a family medicine mentorship program and a leadership development program to attract students into family medicine, which appears to be working. Last year, the AAFP named Ohio State's medical student Family Practice Interest Group one of the nation's best.

The department's research interests reflect a focus on education, with development and evaluation of innovative teaching techniques being a primary goal. Clinical research opportunities have also expanded for the family medicine department. Last year, the department obtained a grant to establish the Primary Care Research Institute, which represents a collaborative effort with the departments of pediatrics, general internal medicine, and neighborhood health centers. Together they are conducting research on managing health disparities in underserved populations.

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