UB Medical School Gets $600,000 Grant to Fund Efforts to Increase Number of Primary-Care Physicians Initiative One of 14 Funded Nationally By Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

By Lois Baker

Release Date: June 29, 1994 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y -- The School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo will receive approximately $600,000 over three years from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the medical school’s efforts to redesign its medical-education curriculum and to increase the number of primary care physicians it graduates.

If the foundation considers the medical school’s efforts to be successful, it will continue to support UB’s primary-care education efforts through a non-competitive three-year grant.

UB is one of 14 schools in the nation to receive a Generalist Physician Initiative implementation grant. The money will allow the university to carry out recommendations developed during an 18-month planning period, which was funded in 1992 by a $150,000 award from the foundation.

The Generalist Physician Initiative grant will enable the medical school to begin its efforts to recruit primary-care physicians in high schools, and to develop projects and programs that will give medical-school students early hands-on experience in primary care. Studies have shown that early positive exposure can influence students to select primary care as their life’s work.

"The faculty and I are elated by the designation from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to participate further in the Generalist Physician Initiative," stated John P. Naughton, M.D., dean of the medical school and UB vice president for clinical affairs.

"Medical schools and their teaching hospitals have done much since World War II to improve the quality of patient care and to eradicate curable diseases. Today, the challenge is to provide quality, cost-effective, efficient care to all of the country's citizens in a larger variety of community-sited environments. This can be done only if more physicians are prepared to work in new settings and to focus on our many unmet needs.

"UB is proud to be included among the schools that will provide the needed leadership for change in the years ahead," he said.

• Hiring a director of education development to help design new courses and programs, and a medical-education specialist to train faculty to implement the initiatives.

"The Robert Wood Johnson Grant offers us a tremendous opportunity to unite the goals of the primary-care departments and to produce high-quality clinical graduates who will be more likely to enter primary care," said Thomas Rosenthal, chair of the UB Department of Family Medicine and the grant’s project director. "Those who don’t enter primary care will have a better understanding of the challenges patients face in our health-care system."

The UB medical school has set a goal of having 50 percent of its graduates eventually practicing in primary-care fields. In September 1992, UB launched its own primary-care initiative, devoted to graduate medical education, when it unveiled a $5 million demonstration project involving six Buffalo teaching hospitals, Medicaid, four private health-care insurers and the New York State Department of Health.

That effort concentrates on recruiting medical-school graduates into primary-care residencies, improving faculty and resident teaching, setting up community academic-practice sites and developing primary-care research opportunities.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, headquartered in Princeton, N.J., is the nation’s largest philanthropic organization dedicated to improving health care.