With support from the American Medical Association, the Alpert Medical School is developing a new M.D./Sc.M. degree program in primary care and population health. Five faculty members recently joined representatives of 10 other medical schools in Nashville, Tenn., to review progress on the national effort.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Five faculty members of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University were in Nashville, Tenn., recently to discuss Brown University’s new M.D.-Sc.M. degree program in primary care and population medicine at a meeting of the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative. The initiative has assembled a consortium of 11 medical schools, including Brown’s, that are developing programs the AMA has found to be especially innovative.

Brown’s first-in-the-nation program, which launches next academic year, is designed to develop physicians who, with training focused on population and public health, can be future leaders in community-based primary care. Last year the AMA announced it will support the program with a $1 million grant.

In Nashville, Drs. Allan Tunkel, associate dean for medical education; Jeff Borkan, assistant dean and chair of family medicine; Paul George, assistant professor of family medicine; Mark Fagan, professor of medicine and internal medicine clerkship director; and Brian Clyne, associate professor of emergency medicine, reported on progress in developing the program. It has drawn a lot of interest from applicants to next year’s medical class, George said.

Since the program was first announced in January 2013, Brown has received approval for the master’s degree, which includes nine courses. Two of them cover the topics of health disparities and epidemiology and biostatistics which are being introduced to all students. The school has also been developing a continuum of leadership courses and a student-led elective course emphasizing principles of patient safety and quality improvement. Brown has also begun the development of population medicine content and has identified sites for its longitudinal integrated clerkships.

Those clerkships will be piloted with eight to 16 third-year medical students in May this academic year. In the full program, the clerkships will begin with all students doing a combined six-week experience in inpatient medicine and surgery, George said. Students will then spend 32 weeks with mentors in family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, and ob/gyn. Students will also have didactic sessions on both clinical medicine and population medicine.

Over the next four years, the AMA will continue to track, gather data, and report on the progress of the medical schools’ collective work in order to identify and widely disseminate the best models for transformative educational change. “Each school, including The Warren Alpert School, has taken major steps forward to advance their grant projects and, collectively, we have made great strides in moving the needle toward reshaping medical education on a national level,” said Dr. Susan Skochelak, AMA group vice president for medical education. “These efforts will help propel medical education into the 21st century and ultimately improve care and outcomes for patients.”

Borkan said he was glad to take part in the meeting.

“The AMA Accelerating Change Consortium is attempting to change medical education across the United States to make it more responsive to the emerging needs of the population, innovations in medical care, and transformation of the medical system,” he said. “Brown is one of the schools at the forefront, in terms of population health.”