Indiana University School of Medicine recently was awarded a $7 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to help the school educate medical students to better care for underserved populations. As the state and nation continue to deal with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as addressing racial inequities captivating the national consciousness, this grant is aimed at helping IU School of Medicine lead the way in eliminating health care deficits.
The grant will fund a project called Primary Care Reaffirmation for Indiana Medical Education (PRIME). The goal of the program is to provide doctors with the tools needed to offer better care to medically underserved and vulnerable communities, both in primary and specialty care.
PRIME will enhance the IU School of Medicine curriculum by focusing on social determinants of health, primary care skills and health systems science. The curriculum will incorporate telehealth, ultrasound, student-driven community improvement projects and scholarly concentrations. Experiential training opportunities also will be expanded throughout the state, particularly in underserved Indiana communities. This project reaches beyond medical school and will be coupled with primary care residency expansion around the state.
The HRSA grant will award $1.75 million annually for four years with a goal of giving medical students at IU School of Medicine deeper curricular and experiential exposure for providing primary care to underserved areas and populations across the state. This will be accomplished in partnership with the school’s large number of clinical partners—affiliations with 120 hospitals, clinics, practice groups and health care organizations—to assist with educational placements. Clinical partners include 26 critical access hospitals and 13 federally qualified health centers statewide.
"It is my hope that through these grant funds, IU School of Medicine will be able to innovatively enhance our medical curriculum in topics of health equity and delivery of health care for underserved communities," said Paul M. Wallach, MD, Executive Associate Dean for Educational Affairs and Institutional Improvement at IU School of Medicine, and the co-principal investigator for the statewide PRIME project team. "At the same time, we want to strengthen educational experiences in primary care so that IUSM graduates are well-grounded in the delivery of high quality care for their patients and communities."
Additionally, IU School of Medicine will strengthen undergraduate recruitment efforts focused on vulnerable populations. This includes promotion of a pipeline program in medical science designed to prepare underrepresented minority students for medical school.
“This grant helps address the pressing needs of our Indiana communities. We have been aware that gaps in care and support exist in both urban and rural underserved areas around the state, but the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the urgency needed to address these health care needs,” said Bradley Allen, MD, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education and the principal investigator on the PRIME team. “PRIME will benefit from the unique training environments at each of the nine IU School of Medicine campuses and help our graduates develop the skillset needed to deal with these challenges, providing hands-on experience in creating solutions for these gaps.”
IU School of Medicine is taking a number of steps to improve its climate for diversity, equity and inclusion. Along with curriculum changes, the medical school is implementing a broad set of actions beginning in the 2020-21 academic year designed to improve the academic environment for black students and others underrepresented in medicine.
“We must be a school where all feel welcomed, encouraged and enabled to do their best,” said IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA.
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.