A Healthier Wisconsin

Community Medical Education Program Planning Phase

Addressing physician shortages in underserved Wisconsin communities through an innovative community-based medical education program

Full Project Name:Community Medical Education Program Planning PhasePrincipal Investigator:Joseph Kerschner, MD, Otolaryngology and Communication SciencesAward Amount:4,023,658
Award Date
Project Duration:48 months

Project Description Narrative:

Nationally, concern is rising regarding the adequacy of the primary care workforce in underserved and rural communities, with leading organizations predicting a national shortage of physicians by 2020. Medical schools have been producing decreasing numbers of primary care physicians and physicians who practice in rural reas, while an aging and overburdened rural workforce is exacerbating the shortage. This shortage will have a profound effect on access to health care, including longer waits for appointments and the need to travel farther to see a doctor. The elderly, the poor, rural residents, and the 20% of Americans who are already medically underserved, will face even greater challenges as a result.

In the U.S., the average primary care physicians per patients is 59 per 100,000, whereas Wisconsin's average ratio is 68 primary care physicians per every 100,000 residents. Studies have shown that in Wisconsin, these shortfalls will occur most significantly in rural and underserved urban areas of Wisconsin. Evidence has shown that a physician is more likely to practice in an underserved community if she or he comes from a similar background and has undergone positive clinical and educational experiences in such a community during undergraduate and post-graduate training.

Through this award, the Medical College of Wisconsin will develop an innovative, immersive teaching model to address the need for primary care physicians in underserved Wisconsin communities and launch community-based medical education programs in Green Bay and Central Wisconsin.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Successfully developed, opened, and recruited students to two new regional campuses in Wisconsin that target rural underserved areas of the state
  • Developed an innovative regional campus curriculum model with a three-year schedule that includes integration of clinical training throughout all years of study and is immersed in local communities through classroom, scholarly activities, and hands-on clinical teaching
  • Established a campus partnership model, immersing the campuses in their respective communities through community organization and leader involvement in campus advisory boards and applicant advisory committees, engagement of local health care and educational institutions in clinical and basic science teaching, and community organization and leader involvement in scholarly research projects

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