Tulane University School of Medicine Rural Immersion Program Receives Grant from Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation

December 8, 2009

Arthur Nead
Phone: 504-247-1443

Tulane University School of Medicine has received a three-year, $411,400 grant from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation to launch an innovative effort called the Rural Immersion Program. The program will offer a select group of third-year medical students the opportunity to reside in a rural Louisiana community and train in that setting while also applying a public health focus to their education. The grant will be matched by funds from Tulane University School of Medicine for a nearly $800,000 commitment.

"Louisiana’s severe shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas, has persisted or worsened despite the graduation of 400 new physicians and the training of 1,500 medical residents in the state each year,” states Dr. Richard Streiffer, professor and chair of Family and Community Medicine at Tulane’s School of Medicine. “Our new program will direct a pool of medical students each year towards rural practice. The traditional medical education approach and setting, which is based in urban and tertiary facilities, simply has not done that.”

The program will immerse the students in a rural community for almost a year of their medical education during which students will learn from both rural life and rural medicine. During the nine-month long curriculum, the students will fulfill the majority of their clinical rotation requirements and deliver patient care under the oversight and mentorship of an experienced primary care physician in the community.

“The students’ time will be characterized by hands-on experience as they care for patients of all ages, with an emphasis on continuity of care and relationship-based care,” Streiffer says. “Students will also see how to collaborate and be a member of a clinical team in patient care, and hence will learn from many other health professionals in the community in addition to their primary care preceptor.”

The Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation was endowed in 1930 by Kate Macy Ladd in memory of her father, who died at a young age. Since the mid-1960’s, the Foundation has focused its resources on improving the education of health professionals, particularly physicians.

The Tulane Rural Immersion Program is designed to improve health care in Louisiana by increasing the number of doctors entering rural practice, while also training students to be rural health leaders and actively engaging rural communities in the process.

“This award is fully in keeping with the Macy Foundation’s dedication to encouraging projects that demonstrate creative new approaches to addressing problems in educating health professionals,” says Dr. George E. Thibault, Macy Foundation spokesperson. “The Tulane Rural Immersion Program was selected because it reflects many of the Foundation’s core priorities: encouraging the development of educational strategies to increase health care for underserved populations, increasing diversity among health care professionals, encouraging projects that increase teamwork between health care professionals, and improving medical and health professional education in the context of the nation’s rapidly changing health care system.”

“In keeping with Tulane’s commitment to address community health needs, I am very excited about the opportunities the Macy Foundation award creates for the future of Tulane University School of Medicine and rural Louisiana as we educate and train the next generation of clinicians and physician leaders,” says Dr. Benjamin P. Sachs, Senior Vice President and Dean, Tulane University School of Medicine. “Both partners, the rural community and Tulane, will be stronger as a result through joint projects, system changes and education.”

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000