By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – A new, four-year degree program, combining a medical degree in primary care with a master’s of science in population health, is being launched by the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University.
The new degree program, which plans to have 24 students enrolled in the Fall of 2015, is in response to the new models of health care designed to treat not only individual patients but also to encourage medical teams to produce high-quality outcomes across entire patient communities, according to medical school officials.
“Primary care is a vitally important area of medicine in Rhode Island and around the country,” said Dr. Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences. “The best care will come from doctors who are trained to understand and improve the community health of their patients. Future primary care doctors must therefore be trained in population health, policy, epidemiology, technology, and teamwork.”
The program’s emphasis is on teaching not only the medical knowledge they need to become physicians, but also public health policy, leadership skills and how to work with other health professionals who are part of the broad care teams that serve patients.
“The proposed integration of a rich population health curriculum into students’ training would be unique among medical school programs,” said Dr. Jeffrey Borkan, who has been appointed assistant dean to spearhead the effort. Borkan has served as chair of the Alpert Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine since 2001.
“We desperately need to control health care costs in Rhode Island and across the United States,” said Brown University President Christina Paxson, a health economist. “By training more primary care physicians, we can contribute to controlling costs while maintaining high-quality care.”