September 25, 2013
I was recently reminded of the strong emphasis COMP and WesternU have placed on primary care over the years, and how far forward our thinking has been about the critical role primary care plays in the health of our communities. This role grows ever more important with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on January 1, 2014.
As far back as 1995 – 18 years ago – COMP was being recognized for its contributions to the primary care workforce. The New Physician magazine, in its December 1995 issue, ranked COMP No. 1 in the nation among all medical schools based on the percentage of its graduates entering family medicine, and No. 3 for the percentage of graduates entering careers in primary care.
A good part of those accomplishments was attributed to the emphasis our entire institution placed on primary care teams working together. At the time, the teams being educated here included physicians, physician assistants and physical therapists. The scope of that group has now grown a great deal, of course, and includes pharmacists, nurses, dentists, optometrists and podiatrists, not to mention the veterinary students whose training reaffirms the importance of the human-animal bond.
But the emphasis remains the same. All of our health sciences disciplines play a crucial role in the well-rounded well-being of the whole patient. That’s about as caring and forward-thinking – and primary — an approach to health care as I can imagine.
More recently, COMP finished in the Top 20 of U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for medical schools that turn out the most primary care residents, based on percentage. At 50.9%, COMP/WesternU placed 18th on this list of 113 osteopathic and allopathic medical schools, which unsurprisingly includes several other osteopathic medical schools at or near the top.
The philosophy that founded this University – humanistic, compassionate care for the betterment of our communities – is at the heart of the primary care sensibility and spirit of collaboration that live throughout our campuses. We see them played out each day in the work being done through the Interprofessional Education curriculum and in our thriving collaborative research enterprises, including the Western Diabetes Institute. And we see them taking root in the world, as our graduates make their mark in communities across the globe.
I will close with the same words I sent to campus in 1995, when our institution’s commitment to primary care was first recognized nationally:
“Our tradition and history have placed us well ahead of national recommendations for change. Our graduates will play a significant role in the future of health care.”
As always, I welcome your feedback on this topic and any others as we discuss WesternU’s Benchmarks of Value, and our plans. Please e-mail me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org, and feel free to share this message with your family and friends.
My best to you all,