Beginning in fall 2014, the Department of Public Health Sciences in the New Mexico State University College of Health and Social Services and the Southern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency Program at Memorial Medical Center will offer residents the opportunity to take courses in public health.
“This collaboration is unique in so many ways,” said Mark Kittleson, Public Health Sciences department head. “It deals with unique border issues, it is a formal agreement between a residency program and an accredited master’s of public health program, although there may be others throughout the country, I’ve yet to find one, and it is an opportunity to truly impact medical treatment and public health in the region.”
The residents will have the chance to earn a graduate certificate in public health, which requires 15 credit hours, or enter the master’s in public health program with a concentration in community health or health administration, management and policy.
“I believe that the addition of public health training in primary care will be essential for the future physician to be effective,” said John Andazola, Southern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency program director. “Working on health issues in the clinic one-on-one with the patient will always be important, but addressing health issues at the community level provides for the greater good. We understand that the social determinants of health play the most important role in the health of the individuals living in that community and this collaboration will provide the resident physicians with the tools needed to address the needs of their communities.
“This collaboration is a bridge between the residency and the university,” Andazola said. “This is a first step to formal collaboration that will tear down the silos and allow us to share our resources, which will directly improve the health of our community.”
Under the agreement, family practice residents will be charged in-state tuition and Memorial Medical Center and the Southern New Mexico Family Medicine Residency Program will pay for the courses if students earn a C or better.
“This is a very exciting collaboration between NMSU and Memorial Medial Center. It gives the family practice residents an opportunity to take courses in the graduate public health certificate program and interact with others with diverse educational background and training,” said Satya Rao, public health sciences professor and coordinator of the graduate certificate.
“It provides the residents an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of public health and find ways to integrate them into their medical practice and create opportunities to be engaged in empowering their clients to make healthy choices and allow primary prevention to be successful,” Rao said.
Currently, five of the second-year residents are slated to begin classes in August toward the graduate certificate.
“I’m excited to interact with other students; through this program, we have a great opportunity to work with and learn from professionals from around the country,” said Sarah Gude, second-year resident.
“As family medicine physicians, we best care for our patients when we understand the big picture: the physical, mental and community factors that influence their health,” Gude said. “It is not enough to know which diabetes treatment is most appropriate for a specific patient; it’s also asking why they have diabetes in the first place. Studying public health principles makes us more aware of those structural challenges that are present in our community. When we understand our patient’s lives in a more comprehensive way, we form deeper relationships and provide better care.”
For more information, visit http://publichealth.nmsu.edu
Writer: Tiffany Acosta, 575-646-3929, firstname.lastname@example.org