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First students in Ohio University and Cleveland Clinic accelerated medical program graduate from residencies

The first seven students to complete the Transformative Care Continuum (TCC), a unique educational collaboration between Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic, will graduate from their residencies at the end of June. The innovative program offers an accelerated curriculum designed to align physician training with the evolving demands of modern health care delivery.

“Signing onto the TCC was a leap of faith. Students in our first cohort took this leap because they believe in team-based patient-centered care, they value a population care approach, and they have a deep affinity for the shared goals of Cleveland Clinic and Heritage College: to meet Ohio’s growing need for primary care physicians,” said Ken Johnson, D.O., executive dean of the Heritage College and OHIO’s chief medical affairs officer. “The trailblazing spirit that landed them in the program has also allowed these students to shine in residency. The level of care they are bringing to their patients as they enter practice is of the highest quality, and I am proud to call them my colleagues.”

In 2018, the first cohort entered the Transformative Care Continuum (TCC), an innovative program with an accelerated curriculum where select students at the Heritage College Cleveland campus are granted early admittance to family medicine residency programs at Cleveland Clinic Akron General or Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center. They then spend three years in medical school, instead of the traditional four, before entering their residencies. While in medical school, the students work with health care teams in Cleveland.

“By offering real-world clinical encounters and immersing students in health care teams, this unique program transforms medical training,” said Sandra Synder, D.O., Cleveland Clinic program director of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center. “It equips this next generation of physicians with invaluable hands-on experience, ensuring they are prepared to tackle 21st-century health care challenges.”

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

“We need to figure out what doctor we want at the end and give them those skills while in medical school. Teach them the knowledge, the attitudes, the behaviors, and then have them practice them at an advanced level while in residency. That’s what TCC has been able to accomplish,” said Leanne Chrisman-Khawam, M.D., Transformative Care Continuum director.

Jacob Wolfe, D.O., a member of TCC’s first cohort, has signed on to work with Cleveland Clinic post-residency. He believes the changes the TCC is bringing to medical education helped him to enter residency with more confidence.

“Becoming a resident in the same clinic that I spent three years in, just made the transition so seamless and so smooth, and allowed me to focus on taking care of patients and not worrying about how to use the electronic medical record or the names of the staff members in the office, because I already knew them,” said Wolfe.

A key component of the TCC is working in the community. In the third year of the TCC, students complete research, quality improvement or programmatic projects they design in partnership with community organizations and aimed at addressing local health challenges.

“The one thing that TCC has also done is go out into the community and make partnerships in community organizations to help bridge those differences that happen in communities. We have to change education, while we change the model, while we change the health system, while we move into the community,” said Chrisman-Khawam.

By working in the Cleveland community, TCC students can gain a wider understanding of all of the factors that can impact a patient’s health.

“The TCC, especially, really understands that everything we do in health care is only 20 percent of an outcome,” said Isaac Kirstein, D.O., dean of the Heritage College, Cleveland. “So, it’s an education where they look at the other 80 percent. They look at the zip code, transportation, poverty, education and everything as a way of improving a system to get better health outcomes for a zip code.”

First cohort member Olga Grech, D.O., has signed on to work with Cleveland Clinic post-residency. She hopes to work closely with people experiencing homelessness in Cleveland, something she began while in the TCC.

“I would say some of the most important lessons I’ve learned through TCC training is just to have so much empathy with our patients and just really look at them as a whole person and get to know them more than just their medical diagnosis,” said Grech.

The TCC has helped to position the Heritage College and Cleveland Clinic at the forefront of adapting medical education to meet the needs of the 21st century. Heritage College was one of 37 medical schools nationwide in the American Medical Association’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, a collaboration that allowed for the sharing of innovative ideas and programs within medical education that ran from 2013-2022. The findings from the Consortium, including information from the Heritage College are now being used by the American Medical Association to continue the work of furthering medical education. 

June 3, 2024
Staff reports