Problem: Physicians need training in community engagement, leadership, and population health to prepare them to work with partners within the community and to adapt medical care to address population health needs.
Approach: With an overall goal of training primary care practitioners to be change agents for improving population health, the Duke University School of Medicine launched the Primary Care Leadership Track (PCLT) in 2011. The four-year PCLT curriculum requires students to contribute to existing community health initiatives, perform community-engaged research, and participate in leadership training. The clinical curriculum incorporates a longitudinal approach to allow students to follow patient outcomes. In addition, students regularly interact with faculty to explore population health issues, review patient cases, and adjust individual learning opportunities as needed.
Outcomes: The first cohort of PCLT students will graduate in 2015. Prospective comparisons with traditional track students are planned on performance on standardized tests and career choices.
Next steps: The authors created the PCLT as a laboratory in which students can engage with the community and explore solutions to address the health of the public and the future delivery of health care. To meet the goal of training change agents, PCLT leaders need to expand opportunities for students to learn from providers and organizations that are successfully bridging the gap between medical care and public health.