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Urban Health Residency Program Gains Traction

Date: October 27, 2014


During their training, urban health residency graduates Dana Mueller, Mark Tenforde and Katy Kline met with patients regularly in community settings.
During their training, urban health residency graduates Dana Mueller, Mark Tenforde and Katy Kline met with patients regularly in community settings.

During her last year at Yale Medical School, Monica Mix found the website for Johns Hopkins’ new Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Urban Health Residency Program and was instantly hooked. Beyond internal medicine and pediatric skills, the four-year program includes training in substance abuse, mental health, homelessness, urban violence and sexually transmitted infections, while also offering opportunities to work with various agencies that serve urban populations.

One of the program’s first graduates, Mix is now a physician at East Baltimore Medical Center as well as assistant director for the residency program. “The residency was a great experience and will have a huge impact on how I practice,” she says.

Aside from offering care within hospital confines, urban health residents also work at local agencies like the Baltimore County Health Department and offer curbside medicine to high-risk areas like The Block, the small stretch of downtown Baltimore known for exotic dancing and prostitution. In addition, residents work with a local mission that focuses on men with substance abuse issues and on patients with HIV. 

“Poor health literacy is a big problem we run into,” says program graduate Dana Mueller, a primary care physician at Mary’s Center, a facility serving low-income people in Washington. “Most patients have the equivalent of a middle school education. Dose adjustments, discussions about informed consent—these are things our patients struggle with. Being on the ground level, you get more comfortable asking questions that physicians often don’t know to ask.”

The urban health residency, which began in 2010, accepts four residents per year, for a total of 16 residents at any given time. They spend two years training in pediatrics and two years training in medicine, typically switching between the departments every three months. “The first year of the program was so well received that we also created a three-year internal medicine urban health primary care track,” says Rosalyn Stewart, associate director of both programs.

 In the very recent past, almost no Johns Hopkins Hospital internal medicine residents pursued a career in primary care. “With the addition of these new programs, we are hoping to increase that number to at least 15 percent,” says Lenny Feldman, director of both programs.

Other graduates of the programs are Sara Mixter, assistant program director for ambulatory education at Johns Hopkins; Deanna Wilson, a fellow in adolescent medicine and an M.P.H. student in the Urban Health Scholars Program; Kathryn Kline, a member of the primary care practice in the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center and an M.P.H. student in the Urban Health Scholars Program; and Mark Tenforde, a fellow in global health leadership working with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients in Uganda.

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