Holden announces $1.46 million grant for primary care training

October 15, 2010

Congressman Tim Holden today announced the allocation of $1.46 million in stimulus funds, through Health and Human Services workforce grants, to Penn State College of Medicine for a redesign of the third-year medical school curriculum to incorporate training around the concept of a patient-centered medical home. The medical home model is gaining momentum nationally as an important new health care delivery model, as a growing number of demonstration projects show it has the potential to improve health outcomes and decrease medical costs.

Four Penn State Hershey Medical Group practice sites have received certification as medical homes, with the rest to follow within the year. This federal allocation will help the College of Medicine fill a curriculum gap between traditional health care practice and the new medical home practice, thus, better preparing the next generation of physicians to treat patients in this changing environment.

Penn State College of Medicine enjoys a tradition of leadership in primary care medical education—the College of Medicine formed the nation’s first Department of Family and Community Medicine. Between 1/3 and 1/2 of each graduating class attends residencies in the primary care fields of family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics.

“We’re proud that a high percentage of our graduates go into primary care fields, and that many of them choose to stay in Pennsylvania,” said Harold L. Paz, Penn State Hershey Medical Center CEO, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, and dean of the College of Medicine. “But we’re also aware that there’s a need to enhance primary care infrastructure and to train more primary care providers, so that Pennsylvanians, and people across our nation, have access to the health care that they need.”

Current medical school curricula are grounded in the practice of medicine in the context of a traditional health care delivery system that focuses on episodic and acute care. The medical home approach holds promise particularly for the quality and cost of care for chronic disease, the leading cause of illness, disability and death in the United States. Ranked third in the nation in residents aged 65 and older, about 50 percent of adult Pennsylvanians have at least one chronic disease. In 2005, $1.7 billion in potentially avoidable hospital charges could be attributed to chronic disease patients not receiving optimal care.

“Penn State Hershey Medical Center is one of the leading medical, research, and training facilities in the world. This grant supports medicine and workforce development programs that will strengthen the delivery of care here in Central Pennsylvania. This is just another example of stimulus funding working in our local communities,” Holden said.

The federal allocation will support a major restructuring of the third-year medical education curriculum to teach the principles of the patient-centered medical home over eight months. Working with patients, families and faculty physicians in a longitudinal fashion over time, medical students will learn the importance of continuity, population-based care, interdisciplinary team-based approaches and new techniques, such as motivational interviewing, to help patients make health lifestyle change.

“This extended period of immersion will allow students to truly become the kind of clinicians with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to practice in the evolving medical home environment of the future,” said Shou Ling Leong, associate vice chair for education and professor in the Department of Family and Community medicine, who is the principal investigator for the grant. “By including the medical home concept in our curriculum, we have the potential to help build workforce capacity in primary care.”


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 20, 2010