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Release: Immediate

Report cites success of UI-led effort to train family doctors

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa's emphasis on family medicine continues to produce physicians trained to meet the state's health care needs, thanks to cooperation between the University of Iowa College of Medicine and community-based family practice residency programs.

A report from the Statewide Family Practice Training Program details the

24-year-old program's success at preparing and retaining family doctors. Some 60 percent of its graduates have stayed in Iowa to begin their careers, many in communities with less than 10,000 residents. A quarter of the graduates located in the areas where they trained.

"The College of Medicine and its partners set out in the early 1970s to serve as the principal source of family physicians for Iowa communities. Clearly, the program is accomplishing its goals," says Roger Tracy, director of the college's Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs. The report will be presented to the Iowa State Board of Regents when they meet in Iowa City Feb. 19-20.

After completing medical school, new physicians pursue training in a medical specialty. Today, the majority of graduates select careers in primary care specialties like family practice, internal medicine or pediatrics, which provide treatment for most common medical problems. Family practitioners and other primary care doctors are essential to the health of Iowa communities.

In Iowa, family physicians are trained at sites in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Iowa City, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo, most of which are formally affiliated with the UI. Each training site is based at a model medical office, but local hospitals and private physician offices also serve as teaching facilities.

Currently, 186 physicians are enrolled in the three-year program, which graduates 55-65 doctors each year. The number of physicians training at each site varies according to available teaching resources.

Family practice is an increasingly popular specialty for graduating medical students, particularly those from the UI College of Medicine. "In the past five years, 31 percent of UI medical grads chose to pursue family practice, more than twice the national rate," Tracy says. The college has recently revised its curriculum to further emphasize primary care and community medicine.

(more) 2/14/97

Enrollment in the Iowa family medicine training program is competitive, with more than eight applications for each available position. Though many successful

applicants are UI graduates, physicians from 40 other medical schools are currently in the program.

While the program prepares physicians to meet Iowa's future needs, it is also a valuable resource for today. In 1995-96, the program's model family practice centers logged nearly 227,000 patient visits. The number of Iowans receiving medical care through the program has substantially increased since its inception.

Patient fees from the family practice centers make up nearly half of the program's budget, with another 43 percent coming from community hospitals that sponsor the programs. State appropriations comprise six percent of the budget.