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Harvard to Study Primary Care?

November 4, 2010
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Is this a joke? A medical school that has no department of family medicine or even a division has been given a $30 million dollar anonymous gift to enhance primary care. This to a medical school that routinely sends less than 2% of its graduates into family medicine?

This gift started when Harvard cut funding for primary care support a year or two ago. Kudos to the committed group of Harvardites who fought for primary care to be better represented, which lead to the ultimate prize of the generous donation.

I have a small suggestion for how some of that money should be spent. Whoever becomes the head of this thing needs to invest a pittance of the $30 million to visit some of the outstanding family medicine residencies that still train full-service family physicians. No reason to reinvent the wheel.

Given Harvard’s reputation, I wonder if they spend $30+ million and 10 years to figure out that the reason there is a massive primary care shortage and few medical students want to enter the field is because family physicians aren’t paid for the work they do, will the political/corporate class finally listen?

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2 Responses to Harvard to Study Primary Care?

  1. JR on November 5, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Richard Young, MD writes: “Is this a joke? A medical school that has no department of family medicine or even a division has been given a $30 million dollar anonymous gift to enhance primary care. This to a medical school that routinely sends less than 2% of its graduates into family medicine?”

    Undoubtedly, Harvard has not been a leader in this area of medicine. However, the statistic you cite regarding lack of primary care trainees from Harvard is the exact reason why their new focus on primary care is so sorely needed. They are stepping up their game–even if it came with community pressure–and we should all be thrilled that they are (not bitter, or concerned that they don’t “deserve” it).

    Absolutely agree about need for Harvard Medical School to learn from institutions that are already training family physicians.

    • Richard Young MD on November 7, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      JR,

      Thanks for the thoughts. I agree with you that Harvard stepping up its game is a good thing for primary care in general. I also believe there is a good chance they’ll come up with some valuable insights. However, it doesn’t seem that Harvard had its epiphany from a deep sense of altruism and community service. It took cold hard cash. Let’s hope one of their insights is that they realize a similar catalyst is one of the important components, but not the only one, to make primary care the foundation of American healthcare.

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