Medical students have reported that volunteering at CommunityHealth kept them grounded in their decision to pursue careers as primary care physicians. Given the national shortage of primary care providers, it is especially important to inspire medical students and internal medicine residents to discover the value and impact of serving diverse, underserved populations.
With our Future Physicians Training Program, CommunityHealth is implementing a number of activities with practical, applicable content that will better equip our residents and medical students to work with low-income patients, both at our health center and throughout their professional careers.
A key component of our training program is a series of workshops on varying topics. We launched this idea with an EKG workshop and later added an Assessment of Kidney Disease workshop. Future topics will include mental health in the medical community, diabetic retinopathy, charting, infectious diseases, and neurology for headaches.
Another aspect of our program includes monthly resident “huddles,” during which we review a monthly health theme and discuss the specific need for this focus in the low-income community. Sample “huddle” topics include: cancer screening, diabetes care, vaccinations, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, referrals in a limited resource setting, heart health, controlled substance monitoring, optimal Electronic Medical Record utilization, and health education offerings at CommunityHealth.
We also inspire some friendly competition through our medical student and resident “leader boards.” Using Electronic Medical Records, we identify residents and medical students who have the best patient outcomes in key areas (e.g., breast cancer screening, colon cancer screening, diabetic A1C levels) and post monthly “leader boards” in the main clinic area. In its early implementation, the leader board project has worked to remind providers of important patient prevention goals and improve health outcomes for their patients.
Currently, we have three Education-Centered Medical Home (ECMH) clinics from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. These clinics are unique in their long-term commitment of each student throughout their entire four-year medical school training. The Northwestern ECMH clinics have taken a leadership role by embarking on a quality improvement (QI) project around HIV screening rates. This project served as an educational opportunity for the students to gauge the effectiveness of intervention efforts, and they have expressed interest in adopting other QI projects.
Led by our Coordinator of Social Services, another facet of our program involves training resident physicians to recognize and address symptoms or behaviors that might be linked to mental health issues or require a referral to our social work department. Training topics include domestic violence, adverse childhood experiences, major depressive disorder, social service department resources, and many more.
Through our Future Physicians Training Program, CommunityHealth is helping to build a pipeline of knowledgeable, experienced primary care professionals to meet the complex and varying needs of the broader community.