“Season for Graduates”
May and June bring the usual Wisconsin Spring rains (and thankfully, no surprise snow storms this year), and also lots of graduations. Wisconsin has a long and proud history of family medicine education, with the University of Wisconsin having had one of the first fifteen family medicine residencies in the U.S.
MCW-Central Wisconsin graduated our first class of pioneering medical students with 38% entering family medicine and 60% of those remaining in Wisconsin for residency training. Wisconsin medical schools once again exceed the national average for percentage of students entering family medicine. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health led the way with 19% and MCW with 12% (significantly higher on the new regional campuses), significantly surpassing the national allopathic average of 9%. The AAFP has established a new goal of “25 X 2030”, aiming to increase the percentage of students entering family medicine to 25% by 2030.
Wisconsin’s relative success represents the hard work of many individuals from the Departments of Family Medicine at both MCW and UWSMPH, faculty and staff at Wisconsin’s 16 family medicine residencies, and most importantly, hundreds of hard working family physicians across the state who volunteer their time and energy to teaching medical students and residents in the classroom and in their clinical practices. Nothing is more influential to a learner than seeing a well-trained, inspirational family physician mentor in action. Not only are you training our future partners, but also the physicians who will care for our patients, families and ourselves.
In spite of the hundreds of family physicians who donate thousands of hours to teaching, a shortage of clinical training sites is the number one barrier to expanding the number of learners in Wisconsin. Family physicians are well represented in the community teaching ranks in many places across the state, but other specialties are often not as well represented. Health systems are increasingly restricting access for students and resident learners. The reasons for this are complex, but are frequently related to short term economics rather than a consideration of longer term recruitment and patient care considerations.
Help us increase the availability of positions for learners by:
1. Discussing the importance of teaching activities with your health system leaders
2. Encourage prioritization of state-based learners, especially those with Wisconsin connections
3. Encourage colleagues of all specialties to teach
4. Participate in faculty development and physician workforce development sessions offered through both medical schools, residencies, Wisconsin Collaborative for Rural GME (WCRGME) and Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce (WCMEW)
Increasing the availability of training opportunities for medical students and residents, particularly in less urban parts of the state, is one of the key strategies to growing our physician workforce in Wisconsin, which will benefit us all for years to come.
Contact me, either of the Departments of Family Medicine, or your local residency program, if you don’t know how to get started. We’d love to help you and your health system discover the importance of teaching the next generation.
Lisa Dodson, MD