Med School/Health Center Collaboration in Harlem Launches New Program to Prepare the Next Generation of Primary Care Physicians
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Med School/Health Center Collaboration in Harlem Launches New Program to Prepare the Next Generation of Primary Care Physicians

August 25, 2015


New York, NY (August 25, 2015) –  The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), its Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and The Institute for Family Health, today welcomed its first class of Primary Care Scholars Program (PCSP)students.  The six students were selected to participate in a four-year track designed to prepare them for successful and sustainable careers providing primary care in medically underserved communities.

The inaugural class — all first year medical students at ISMMS — are highly motivated and committed to becoming leaders in the fields of primary care and community-based medicine.

“I’m thrilled to be in the program and it’s an honor and privilege to learn from mentors and leaders in primary care.  What’s most inspiring is to work closely with the patient population [East Harlem community] in this setting and that is why we are all drawn to primary care,” said Zachary Davidson, PCSP scholar.

Throughout their years at ISMMS, Primary Care Scholars will receive ongoing career guidance and mentorship from primary care providers practicing in underserved New York City communities. For their first and second years, students will spend at least one afternoon per month in clinical care with a family physician mentor from the Institute. Much of this clinical experience will take place at the Institute for Family Health’s Family Health Center of Harlem — a Federally Qualified Health Center serving thousands of patients from the surrounding community. There, the Scholars will co-manage panels of patients with their mentors and the health care teams at The Institute for Family Health.

“The PCSP provides the scholars a unique opportunity to learn high-quality evidence-based medicine through the development of longitudinal relationships with urban underserved patients, their families, and their health care teams.  Primary care scholars will become integral members of the healthcare team,” said Victor Sta. Ana, Director, PCSP.

In addition to the monthly clinical sessions students will experience the challenges and rewards of practicing primary care in various urban underserved settings, including clinics in school-based health centers, homeless shelters and food pantries, a methadone maintenance program, a long-term care facility and an integrative medicine practice.  Scholars will build partnerships with community based organizations to better care for their patients and communities.

“This is the beginning of making places like the Institute [for Family Health] the classroom of the future,” said Dr. Robert Schiller, senior vice president at the Institute for Family Health. “This is what the health care system should look like.”

All of the Primary Care Scholars will receive an award of $20,000 during each of their four years of medical school for a total award of $80,000. This award will take the form of an ISMMS loan, and will be forgiven in its entirety if the graduated scholar practices primary care in an underserved community for two years following the completion of residency training. If a scholar chooses to pursue a specialty other than primary care, they will be expected to repay their award as a low-interest ISMMS loan.

“There is an immense need in our health care system for an increased number of primary care physicians, particularly in medically underserved communities,” said David Muller, MD, FACP, Dean for Medical Education at ISMMS.  “While there is a great deal of passion among the nation’s medical students to provide this type of care, two enormous barriers, a paucity of outstanding mentors and overwhelming educational debt, prevent most students from pursuing this dream. The PCSP combines extraordinary mentorship with significant debt relief and will bring us closer to fulfilling our dream of achieving equity in health care for those whose need is greatest.”