The Duke Endowment recently awarded the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium a three-year grant to establish the Institute for Primary Care Education and Practice. This institute brings together MUSC and the University of South Carolina (USC) to increase the number of primary care providers in the state.
Upon receiving word about the grant from The Duke Endowment, David Garr, M.D., executive director of the consortium, said: "We need more primary care providers in South Carolina. This new institute offers an opportunity to increase the support we'll be able to provide to USC and MUSC students who begin their studies with an interest in primary care careers."
By bringing together the two academic medical centers, the institute also will coordinate its work across interprofessional boundaries. Medical, advanced practice nursing and physician assistant students who have an interest in careers in primary care will be invited to join the institute when they begin their professional education. A team of faculty will coordinate the work of the institute.
In the past, students who began professional school with an interest in primary care often changed focus to a non-primary care specialty. The institute will provide special learning opportunities and support for these students during their time at MUSC and USC with the goal of sustaining their interest in primary care. The goal is to prepare these students so that more of them graduate with plans to work in primary care settings.
Stephanie Burgess, USC clinical professor of nursing, said the USC College of Nursing Advanced Practice Nursing Program is thrilled to collaborate with programs at MUSC. "Our vision is to increase the number of primary care providers to help meet the needs of the anticipated large number of South Carolinians who will enter the health care system by 2014."
Activities for the institute will include a longitudinal seminar series that will provide opportunities for students to engage in discussions about a number of primary care-related topics. Community-based faculty who volunteer their time to teach students from the medicine, nursing, and physician assistant studies programs will be invited to join the institute to serve as teachers and mentors. An annual conference for students, campus faculty from MUSC and USC, and community-based preceptors will generate a sense of community and sustain a vision for improved primary health care.
Paul Jacques, D.H.Sc., faculty member with the MUSC Physician Assistant Program said patient-centered medical homes are the future models for improving access to health care. "These primary care practices will need compassionate, competent clinicians who are comfortable working within interprofessional teams. This project is focusing on the future of health care and preparing students for that future."