The Department of Family and Community Medicine celebrated its 17th year in the School of Medicine this past spring, 2015. The Department became Tulane’s newest clinical department in 1998 under the leadership of Dr. Richard Streiffer, building on the long-established Program in Community Medicine.
As our nation struggles toward a universal healthcare system that incentivizes effectiveness – both in cost and outcome – Family Medicine, is in the forefront of the debate on system reorganization, and our discipline expects to play a prominent role in health care policy, planning and execution into the 21st century. Increasingly, primary care physicians have assumed the role of staffing the medical home in our healthcare system, responsible for providing and coordinating care to achieve population outcomes that are currently being achieved in the health care systems of other advanced industrial nations around the world. This is the challenge of primary care in the 21st century, one that promises to remake our discipline and the U.S. healthcare system over time.
The Department is responding to the challenge in several ways, including updating our clerkship teaching and participating in a growing research network of primary-care clinics devoted to patient-centered outcomes. Our clerkship teaching is under active revision, incorporating the principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home into our entire curriculum and adding clerkship teaching modules on essential primary-care communication skills, chronic disease management model of care, and continuous clinical quality improvement. We anticipate that these will be part of the essential knowledge base of medical students as our health care system evolves from its current encounter-based focus to a population management, outcomes-driven healthcare system. The Department is reinvigorating its scholarly mission through efforts to create a clinic-based research network for our region with goal of participating in national research initiatives of interest to primary care physicians and patients. Our ultimate goal is to participate actively as full partners in a national effort to make the primary-care clinic of the future a site for research into patient-centered outcomes.
Family Medicine is an exciting place to be at this point looking into the future, and our growing importance to the healthcare system of the future is already evident in dramatic rises in opportunity for Family Physicians. Merritt Hawkins reported in 2013 that Family Medicine remains for the seventh straight year the “most requested and difficult search out there in term of the sheer number of requests.” This is a function of both increasing demand and a flat supply of graduating medical students choosing a career in primary care. Even as supply increases, we anticipate that long-term demand pressures driven by healthcare system changes will continue to make primary care a valued and sought after specialty in the market place. Market place value translates into career flexibility both terms of the type of work arrangements and locality. Family physicians are fully prepared to serve in clinics, hospitals and urgent care settings, including emergency departments, and in urban, suburban and rural communities.
We invite you to contact us to see how a career in Family Medicine could be the ideal choice for you.