Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Center for Primary Care Innovation
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Outcomes of the Education-Centered Medical Home

A novel, team based, four-year longitudinal primary care clerkship focused on preparing medical students to best understand healthcare disparities in the communities where they serve.

Project Summary

In the following video, Daniel Evans, MD, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and director of the Education-Centered Medical Home, speaks about the value of the program and what it teaches medical students about the social determinants of health.

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Primary care practitioners feel strongly that all patients should have an ongoing relationship with a personal physician and practice-based team trained to provide first contact, continuous and comprehensive care. If continuity is the foundation of primary care, then one would presume that medical students considering a career in primary care would have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it feels like to be a continuity provider early on in training (under the supervision of a trusted primary care role model). If students never have the chance to build patient rapport and follow patients over time, then how can they possibly make a well-informed decision about the pros and cons of a primary care career?

Specific Aims

To address this issue, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine has created the Education-Centered Medical Home (ECMH) program. The ECMH is a team-based, longitudinal primary care clerkship founded on the principle of continuity and focused on teaching the educational principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home. The ECMH embeds medical student teams into primary care clinics to care for an authentic panel of complex patients over time. A four-year structure with stable relationships among patients, preceptors and peers allows trainees to see the natural history of chronic illness and, therefore, appreciate the profound impacts of social determinants of health on patient outcomes over time. Gone are the "one-visit-and-done," superficial encounters that tend to be the norm in traditional family medicine or primary care clerkships. Instead, students meet patients struggling with diabetes or asthma during their first year and are tasked to fulfill the role of health coach and patients advocate for the next four years. The ECMH also fosters a culture of accountability and improvement by having clinics track their outcomes and design and implement annual quality improvement projects. Prior work shows that our ECMH model is feasible, highly rated by students, mitigates the negative effects of the hidden curriculum, improves perceptions of their primary care training experience and increases students' measures of patient-centeredness compared with students in the traditional curriculum. Intriguingly, preliminary data show that patients in one ECMH clinic were more engaged and had better chronic disease management metrics after working with student coaches compared with historic controls. The specific aims of this project are to:

  1. Evaluate the impact of the ECMH longitudinal primary care model on student attitudes, medical knowledge and clinical skills
  2. Evaluate the impact of the ECMH longitudinal primary care model on student attitudes toward primary care and ultimate career choice
  3. Formalize the ECMH curriculum and disseminate course materials to other interested academic institutions; ultimately, we aim to make the ECMH model a national best-practice in care education that other institutions can implement or adopt

Project Team

Project Coordinator

Lauren Gard, MPH

Publications & Presentations

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