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Ohio University and Cleveland Clinic partner to train future primary care physicians

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and Cleveland Clinic are working together to train primary care physicians through a unique medical education program with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. The first cohort of eight students to complete the Transformative Care Continuum (TCC) graduated on Saturday, May 8 – just three years after they started medical school rather than the traditional four.

“We could not be prouder of these eight students for completing such a rigorous and innovative medical program,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis, Ph.D., said. “The need for medical education to be more inclusive and diverse, culturally competent and relevant to the community by addressing their needs and health disparities has never been more important. The TCC has trained these students on how to better serve their communities, and I have no doubt they will be successful in doing so.”

Developed and launched in 2018 in partnership with Cleveland Clinic, the Transformative Care Continuum is an accelerated curriculum where select students at the Heritage College, Cleveland, are admitted directly into family medicine residency programs at Cleveland Clinic Akron General or Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center. During the three years of medical school, students work alongside interprofessional healthcare teams and take on increasing patient care responsibilities before beginning the three-year family medicine residency at the same site.

“From the first days of medical school, these students are on the front lines of the clinical settings where they’ll be working for the entire six years of medical school and residency,” said Isaac Kirstein, D.O., dean of the Heritage College, Cleveland. “The most effective family physicians are those who build strong relationships with patients in the context of their families and their communities, so they can truly understand those socioeconomic factors that impact health outcomes. Thanks to our partnership with Cleveland Clinic, our TCC students are doing that right from the start.”

Heritage College faculty and Cleveland Clinic residency directors jointly developed the curriculum, forming an innovative collaboration between medical education and healthcare to align physician training with what medicine needs.

The Heritage College is one of 37 medical schools nationwide in the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. While many consortium members are investigating single curriculum changes meant to fill specific gaps in healthcare, the Heritage College is the only medical school making such a wholesale change for a cohort of eight students per year.

“This innovative program transforms medical education by providing hands-on experience with patients and healthcare delivery teams to train future physicians in a dramatically different way and uniquely prepare them for 21st century medicine,” said James Young, M.D., executive director of academic affairs at Cleveland Clinic. “Healthcare systems need more patient-centered solutions that engage social determinants of health and collaborate across traditional silos to improve health outcomes. These students will help us lead the way to healthier communities.”

During their third year of medical school, Transformative Care Continuum students complete self-directed projects through which they partner with community organizations to create programs that address regional health challenges, particularly for populations in greatest need. Community projects for the first cohort of students included 2021 TCC graduate Blake Kinsel’s project partnering with the LGBT Center of Cleveland and the Doctors of the Streets program to expand point-of-care HIV testing and prevention services. Kinsel received the prestigious Excellence in Public Health Award from the U.S. Public Health Service Physician Professional Advisory Committee for his work on this project.

In addition to Kinsel, the first cohort of students includes Michael Arnold, Palmer Coleman, Olga Shirley Grech, Peris Kibera, Sharon Ware, Matthew Wilcox and Jacob Wolfe.

Video credit: Cleveland Clinic 

May 10, 2021
Staff reports