CINCINNATI—The University of Cincinnati (UC) is one of 10 academic health centers selected to participate in a national program aimed at improving care for chronically ill patients.
Faculty from the departments of internal medicine and family medicine, the Office of Medical Education and the Institute for the Study of Health will use this grant—titled Enhancing Education for Chronic Illness Care—to redesign curricula for medical students and offer residents more opportunities to care for chronically ill patients.
UC will receive $200,000 during the next two years from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation for this initiative. The Enhancing Education for Chronic Illness Care grant project was created to support changes in the way medical students and residents are educated and trained to care for chronic illness.
“Caring for chronic illness represents a huge portion of a physician’s workload, but the health care community has yet to put the resources and tools in place to train medical students and new physicians how to best manage these patients,” said Andrew Filak, MD, professor of family medicine and senior associate dean for academic affairs at UC’s College of Medicine.
Over the next two years, UC will work to incorporate principles of chronic illness care into the education of students from the beginning of medical school through residency. New curricula and learning experiences will be developed that are action-based and experiential.
This fall, UC will begin a pilot program in which 40 students will establish long-term relationships with chronically ill patients—relationships that will continue throughout the students' four years of medical school.
“By establishing these relationships early in a student’s career, we hope to show them the need for and impact of continuity of care in chronically ill patients,” says Filak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic (long-term or frequent) illness affects more than 90 million Americans and accounts for 70 percent of all deaths in the United States. Caring for chronic illnesses accounts for about 75 percent of U.S. health care dollars spent.
UC also is involved in other programs focused on improving education and quality care. In 2005, the Academic Health Center was named to the Academic Chronic Care Collaborative—a group of 22 institutions working to improve the care of chronic illness in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
Earlier this year, UC’s internal medicine department was named one of 17 participants in the Educational Innovations Project (EIP) by the American Council on Graduate Medical Education. As part of this program, UC is working to increase outpatient experiences during resident medical education and enhance the third-year medical resident experience by allowing participants to customize a portion of their training to their own specific interests.