Back to Basics: Shifting from Specialty to Generalist Medicine

From 1992 to 2000, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine undertook a comprehensive effort to reorient its educational programs toward primary care.

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

Activities: Case Western, previously a specialty-oriented school, partnered with the Henry Ford Health System to establish a Primary Care Track for students.

Case Western's overall goal was to have one-third of its graduates choosing generalist residencies by the end of the project.

Key Results

  • During the project, the percentage of Case Western students electing to pursue primary care residency training increased, reaching 61 percent in 1998, and then stabilizing in 1999 and 2000 at 46 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

  • Seventy students graduated from the Primary Care Track in the Classes of 1998, 1999 and 2000. Of those, 81 percent entered primary care residencies.

  • Overall, Primary Care Track students performed at the same level as their classmates with regard to core curriculum grades and scores.

  • Medical school applicants often cite the Primary Care Track as an important factor in attracting them to Case Western.

  • In its first ranking of medical schools with regard to training in primary care, U.S. News & World Report ranked Case Western School of Medicine seventh in the nation.