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Primary Care Leadership Track Rolls Out

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Primary Care Leadership Track Rolls Out

Primary Care Leadership Track Rolls Out

Date: 11/04/2016

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has placed a strong emphasis on training in medical specialties. Now primary care is sharing the spotlight. Nine first-year medical students in January enrolled in the school’s new Primary Care Leadership Track. The students will complete a longitudinal clerkship shadowing a pediatrician, geriatrician, internist or family practitioner at one of the Johns Hopkins Community Physicians primary care sites for a half day a month for three years.

In addition, each student is tasked with a scholarly project related to primary care and will participate in workshops throughout the year that focus on primary care practice skills, such as behavioral health coaching, understanding social determinants of health and the role of primary care physicians in advocating for social justice.

“So far, it’s awesome,” says track director Colleen Christmas, a primary care geriatrician and an associate director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. “I am super passionate about primary care, and I’ve always said I can’t understand why more people don’t want to do what I do. But it’s not something that’s had a prominent position in our school of medicine. It’s really nice to be in a position to try and change that.”

The track was inspired by Johns Hopkins Medicine Dean/CEO Paul Rothman and others recognizing that more should be done to promote primary care fields to students, she says. At the same time, a growing number of students were becoming more vocal about wanting primary care careers.

“What we’re trying to do is train physicians in primary care who have leadership skills and can really make a difference in terms of how primary care is delivered, how it’s paid for and the policies surrounding it,” Christmas says.

A kickoff celebration for the program attracted some 60 supporters. “That’s a day that I thought I’d never see at Hopkins,” she says. “I was on cloud nine.”

The track complements other Johns Hopkins programs offering primary care education, including residency training and a clerkship for first-year medical students, says Steven Kravet, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians president: “This program is taking it to the next level.”

“It’s really revolutionary for Hopkins to be focusing on this,” Kravet says. “We think it’s important for the pipeline of primary care physicians to have the opportunity to train from medical school through residency at Hopkins and hopefully stay on in these careers.”

Christmas agrees: “It is a bit of a culture shift for an academic place to think about primary care. On the other hand, we know that health care systems built with strong systems of primary care tend to be less expensive and use more appropriate diagnostic testing, so it makes business sense.”