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Stepping Out of the Clinic

Community Projects Get Residents Into the Community

Primary Care program coordinatorsPrimary care residents spend a considerable amount of time in the clinic on their way to careers in adult ambulatory care. But to really understand their patients, Baystate primary care residents participate in an award-winning program that gets them involved in projects with, and for, their community.

“As primary care doctors, they are responsible for the health of their community. We want them to understand their patients outside the clinic,” says Dr. Gina Luciano, Primary Care Residency co-director. There are no assignments; the projects are of each resident’s choosing.

Dr. Hector Guzman, a second-year resident with a background in public health, volunteers at the Pioneer Valley Free Clinic. He helped to identify diabetic patients there, with the goal of creating a diabetes registry. Better understanding the health status of the community they serve could aid them in procuring future grant funding to reach out to, educate, and empower their patients to take better care of their diabetes.

This innovation in residency training received national recognition when Dr. Luciano won the Primary Care Challenge for the most innovative idea in primary care, competing with more than 50 other entries. The challenge was sponsored by MedTechBoston, American College of Physicians, the American Resident Project and Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care.

Other residents have provided health care counseling for homeless community members, mentored college students, and worked with high school students to design and deliver nutrition education to their peers.

According to co-director Dr. Sukhdeep Aulakh, "The goal of the community project is to have the residents engage with the community and advocate for patients. It’s about reminding them why they became doctors in the first place.”

  > More about the Internal Medicine Primary Care Program