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IU Family Medicine Receives Federal Funds to Promote Student Training in Underserved Areas

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The purpose of the five-year Advancing Medically Underserved Student Training (A-MUST) Project is to improve student learning in underserved communities in order to increase student interest in primary care and the underserved.

“Evidence suggests that medical students who train in rural and medically underserved communities tend to remain in underserved settings after residency to establish practice,” said the grant’s lead investigator Scott Renshaw, MD, assistant professor of clinical family medicine and director of the Family Medicine Clerkship, a mandatory four-week training rotation for third-year medical students. 

“This grant leverages resources so that the Department of Family Medicine in cooperation with the Indiana Area Health Education Center (Indiana AHEC) can identify doctors in medically underserved areas in Indiana who want to teach and are good at teaching medical students how to care for medically underserved populations. One of the goals is to develop 50 new underserved training offices and preceptors during the five years of the grant funding,” Dr. Renshaw said.

The specific goals of the project are to better align learning opportunities and curricula with state workforce needs through the expansion of the number of Family Medicine Clerkship sites in rural and urban underserved communities and integrate curriculum into the Family Medicine Clerkship on health disparities and care for medically underserved populations.

Indiana faces major challenges with primary care provider shortages. Nearly 70 percent of Indiana counties possess by federal definition Medically Underserved Areas and/or Health Professional Shortage Areas. By 2020, Indiana will need 2,000 additional primary care physicians to meet the health-care needs of the state’s population, according to statistics from the 2007 Indiana Brief: Indiana’s Health Professions Workforce Shortages and Mal-distribution report by the Bowen Research Center.

According to data from America’s Health Rankings,  Indiana is plagued with high rates of smoking (23 percent), obesity (30 percent), and childhood poverty (26 percent, up from 8.5 percent 10 years ago) – all factors that can lead to additional health care needs. 

IU School of Medicine classes graduating in 2006 and 2007 had 37.5 percent of the students select to practice primary care with 12 percent specifically choosing family medicine. Of the 37.5 percent, 33 percent decided to practice in medical shortage areas, and 52.5 percent have chosen to practice in low income areas.