College ranked in Top 10 for family medicine

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations | May 12, 2014

Image with caption: Shelley Baldwin, administrator in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine, accepts the award on behalf of the department from AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D.

Shelley Baldwin, administrator in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine, accepts the award on behalf of the department from AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D.

The UNMC College of Medicine recently received another accolade for its efforts in boosting the number of family physicians in Nebraska.

Rural recruiting

Some results from UNMC programs that focus on boosting numbers of health professionals in rural Nebraska:

  • 434 students have graduated from the UNMC Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP) since 1990. Currently, 65 percent of the graduates practice in Nebraska. Of those practicing in Nebraska, 73 percent practice in a rural setting.
  • 172 college students are in the pipeline to attend UNMC through RHOP and the Kearney Health Opportunities Program (KHOP).
  • 100 physician residents have graduated from the UNMC Rural Training Track program making it one of the largest and most successful rural training tracks in the country.
  • 285 high school students attended UNMC Rural Health Care Career Day last fall.
  • 419 eighth-grade students participated this spring in six regional competitions across Nebraska to qualify to attend the annual 8th Grade Health/Science Meet in June.
  • 680 high school and college students have participated in the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska's (BHECN) Ambassador program since it started in 2012.

The College of Medicine recently received an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Top 10 Award for its consistent contributions to building the family physician workforce.

The award comes on the heels of U.S. News & World Report rankings, which earlier this year, recognized UNMC as ninth among rural medicine programs and sixth among primary care medical programs.

The AAFP award was presented during a recent conference of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine. Family physicians are qualified to treat most ailments and provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages -- from newborns to seniors.

The award honors medical schools that, during a consecutive three-year period, graduated the greatest percentage of students who chose first-year family medicine residency positions.

"We are pleased to be honored by our peers. This award is a testament of the contributions by many at UNMC, by the full-time and volunteer faculty, the students who ultimately choose family medicine as a career and our health care partners across Nebraska," said Michael Sitorius, M.D., chairman of the UNMC Department of Family Medicine. "The department has a long-standing commitment to training future family physicians and will continue our efforts to increase the family medicine workforce for all of Nebraska."

At a time when the United States is facing a shortage of primary care physicians, filling the family physician workforce pipeline is vital to the health of Americans, said AAFP President Reid Blackwelder, M.D.

Awardees employ several initiatives that support students who are interested in and most likely to become family physicians, including:

  • student outreach,
  • faculty involvement in medical school committees,
  • admissions policies that target students from rural and medically underserved areas,
  • clinical rotations that emphasize positive experiences in family medicine,
  • strong, student-run family medicine interest groups and
  • financial aid packages that minimize student debt.

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