Path to General Medicine Residencies Leads Through the Community

From 1992 to 2000, Boston University School of Medicine expanded its primary care-oriented curricular and educational experiences.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) The Generalist Physician Initiative national program.

The Project: The school of medicine had established nationally recognized residencies in general internal medicine and pediatrics and a number of primary care programs in conjunction with its Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

Under the Generalist Physician Initiative, the school of medicine partnered with community health centers in a number of reforms that have been integrated into the school of medicine's mission:

  • A new Department of Family Medicine (established with Generalist Physician Initiative and Title VII grant funding).
  • A new pre-medical course on generalism; integration of community-based mentorships with the first year Introduction to Clinical Medicine course.
  • The relocation of the physical diagnosis course to primary care settings.
  • A four-week ambulatory clerkship in Year 3; and a summer primary care research project for rising first year students.

Building on the school's long commitment to providing care to the underserved, students and residents receive much of their training at 12 inner city community health centers. These sites are part of an integrated, service network created after the 1996 merger of Boston University School of Medicine's two major teaching hospital affiliates.

Key Results

  • Preliminary data from 1997 medical school graduates—the first class to participate in programs initiated under the Generalist Physician Initiative—indicated a significant increase in generalist residency choices.