Reinforcing their commitment to primary care, UMass Medical School students have made this week’s observance of National Primary Care Week (NPCW) their own with a program of events and activities that bring them together with other primary care professionals and students. “National Primary Care Week is a great opportunity to learn new things about the field and help connect other students with that information,” said Andrew Chandler, Class of ’13.
Originated by the American Medical Student Association and Student Osteopathic Medical Association, NPCW helps raise awareness of the need for primary care physicians, focus attention on bringing quality health care to all individuals, and provide students with the tools to address health care inequalities. At UMMS, programming has been led by the School of Medicine’s Generalist Physician Program (GPP), in cooperation with the Center for the Advancement Primary Care (CAPC), a joint initiative of the medical school and clinical partner UMass Memorial Health Care.
“This school does a great job of promoting primary care on the institutional level and a valuable counterpart to that is enthusiasm and involvement from the students themselves,” said Liz Coogan, Class of ’13, who along with Chandler and fellow second-year student Elise Bognanno, all GPP members, planned the week’s events. Initially a grant-funded project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s nationwide Generalist Physician Initiative to increase the number of internists, general pediatricians and family physicians, GPP became a student organization focused on primary care within the Medical School’s Office of Educational Affairs when grant funding ended in 2000.
With assistance from CAPC Senior Director Barbara Weinstein and Sherly Jean-Bart of the Office of Educational Affairs, Coogan, Bognanno and Chandler kicked off the week on Monday with a student breakfast where attendees received handouts with reflections and readings on primary care. Family medicine physician Ron Adler, MD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health, and pediatrician Linda Sagor, MD, MPH, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, were on hand to chat informally with students about primary care training and practice. Later that day the UMMS Rural Health Scholars, a program to foster medical students' interest in rural health issues and encourage them to practice in rural or small town areas, took center stage at a luncheon featuring a panel discussion on treating substance abuse in primary care settings.
After a break on Tuesday for Election Day, the NPCW program resumed on Wednesday in the Medical School lobby with poster displays from the Quality Scholars Project and the Thursday Morning Memo Series. A joint effort of UMass Medical School, the UMass Memorial Medical Center Department of Quality and Patient Safety and the CAPC, the Quality Scholars certificate program was created for UMMS faculty and UMass Memorial leaders who wish to become proficient in quality improvement. The Thursday Morning Memo Series is a weekly web-based writing forum where family medicine & community health faculty, residents, researchers and students write reflective narratives to celebrate and share their clinical successes.
On Thursday, three graduates of the first class of Quality Scholars will lead the Department of Medicine conference “General Internal Medicine: Quality Improvement Projects for Clinical Practices.” NPCW participants at UMMS also reached out to UMass Memorial Health Care’s hospitals and community-based group practices with expressions of appreciation throughout the week to all care teams in the UMass Memorial primary care network. The fact that 19 percent of UMass Memorial primary care physicians are graduates of UMass Medical School, and 28 percent of them completed residency at UMass Memorial, highlights the strength of the connection between training at UMass Medical School and choosing to stay in the region to practice primary care.
“I believe that generalist practices are essential to providing quality health care, and I am excited to celebrate the hard work of primary care physicians,” said Bognanno. “It is a nice reminder to students who are stuck in the classroom all day of why we are studying so much.”