Med Students Selected as Primary Care Pathway Scholars

Med Students Selected as Primary Care Pathway Scholars

MOBILE, Alabama (10/27/2020) -- Ten first-year medical students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine have been selected for the Primary Care Pathway program, a new educational track that will provide four years of specialized training in primary care.

The program is funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) totaling more than $6 million. The USA College of Medicine was one of five institutions in the U.S. to receive grant funding from HRSA for the program.

The Primary Care Pathway scholars are TiAriel Anderson of Monroeville, Ala.; Jarrett Barnes of Evergreen, Ala.; Claire Chastain of Huntsville, Ala.; Amber Crenshaw of Mobile, Ala.; Kramer Crider of Bremen, Ala.; Meghan Dean of Wilmer, Ala.;, Tiara Dean of Monroeville, Ala.; Isabelle Delplanche of Portland, Ore.; Carey Johnson of Decatur, Ga.; and Marley Lee of Lafayette/Duson, La.

The goal of the program is to increase the number of primary care physicians in underserved areas and ultimately improve the health of those populations, said Allen Perkins, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair of family medicine at the USA College of Medicine.

"The program allows these medical students to focus their attention on primary care,” Perkins said. "For the community, it’s huge. The program allows the USA College of Medicine to partner in the care of the underserved beyond the hospital at the community level.”

USA’s Primary Care Pathway students spend 20 days in a community-based primary care clinic during their first two years and complete a summer quality improvement project. During their third year, students are assigned to primary care clerkships in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. They participate in a four-week elective at a community site and an acting internship in a primary care field.

Fourth-year students engage in a four-week primary care capstone practice management/leadership project and a four-week elective in basic science related to primary care. When they graduate, the students receive a special Primary Care Pathway notation on their diplomas.

Selections were based on student interest in primary care and a willingness to commit to the practice following residency training. Community partners, meanwhile, become fellows who are trained by USA College of Medicine faculty to teach and mentor medical students. The community partners include Franklin Medical Mall, Franklin Foley Family Health Center, Franklin Loxley Family Health Center, Semmes Family Health Center and Accordia Health in Bayou La Batre.

"Growing up in an underserved area, I have a greater awareness of many significant external factors that could prevent patients from receiving the proper care that they deserve such as accessibility to medical/specialty care, physical support, emotional support and financial crisis,” said Anderson, of Monroeville, Ala., who was accepted for the program. "I am prepared to absorb the years of wisdom from my assigned site directors to serve similar communities following my completion of this program.”

Carey Johnson, a medical student from Decatur, Ga., who is president of the medical school Class of 2024, said his passion for primary care was inspired by his wife and fellow medical student, Angela Mosley-Johnson, who is in her fourth year at the USA College of Medicine. "The experiences and stories that she brought home about working to improve her patients’ quality of life was something that resonated with me on a personal level,” he said. "As a future primary care physician, I want to embody a holistic level of care for my patients.”

Perkins said the Primary Care Pathway Program also will inform primary care training across the board at the USA College of Medicine. "For the broader student body, we will have faculty members who will be trained in population health and social determinants of health,” he said. "The instruction will be infused into the entire curriculum for all students.”

The USA College of Medicine has a long track record of graduating physicians who practice in the state. More than 43 percent of the college’s alumni practice in Alabama, with 36 percent in underserved areas, 27 percent in primary care disciplines and 10 percent in rural areas.


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