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University of Iowa News Release

June 17, 2003

Grant Bolsters Clinical-Cultural Training For Medical Students

In Iowa, an increased population in two groups -- Latinos and people ages 65 and older -- is spurring educators in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver of Medicine to augment training for medical students. A three-year, $450,000 grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration will help the college provide training opportunities for medical students to work with geriatric and Latino patients in primary care settings.

The Primary Care Predoctoral Training grant was awarded to the Predoctoral Education Program in the UI Department of Family Medicine. The project director for the grant, which is effective July 1, is Barcey T. Levy, Ph.D., M.D., UI associate professor of family medicine and associate director of the Predoctoral Education Program.

"The focus of the award is to develop curricular and extracurricular activities to prepare UI medical students for both clinically and culturally competent care of underserved and high-risk patients, including older Iowans and Latinos," Levy said. "With both of these populations expanding, the time is right to focus on care related to these groups."

Latinos represents 2.8 percent of the state's overall population, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Latinos account for higher percentages of residents in some counties, such as Buena Vista (12.5 percent) and Wright (4.9 percent).

Nationally, Iowa has the third highest proportion of citizens over age 65 and the highest proportion of citizens over 85. Nearly 55 percent of the state's elderly live in rural locations.

"In Iowa, as is the case nationwide, rural areas tend to be underpopulated with physicians. We hope that by strengthening opportunities for students to learn in a rural area, they'll get a good flavor for what it would be like to actually practice there," Levy said.

The grant will help provide support, including about 60 stipends, for UI medical students to participate in the augmented training through the existing four-week family medicine preceptorship, which is required of all third-year students. Some students will begin their preceptorships this summer.

The preceptors include 134 family physicians in private practice statewide and six physicians at UI Community Medical Service-affiliated sites. The program is using surveys to identify physician-preceptors who have a higher than average population of geriatric, Latino, rural and/or underserved patients.

The grant also will help train these physicians to more effectively teach geriatrics, as well as genetics, to medical students participating in the family medicine preceptorships. The grant has an additional component to develop educational activities for third-year students in genetics related to primary care.

"The students spend nearly all the time of their preceptorship working one-on-one with a board-certified family physician," Levy said. "This one-on-one time is unique among the required courses we offer, and we are indebted to the board-certified family physicians throughout Iowa who provide these educational experiences."

The grant also will help the program provide additional education opportunities in elective courses in family medicine and opportunities for students to work with medically underserved populations through summer clinical experiences or research projects.

Students also will have the opportunity to participate in an elective program called Medically Underserved Service Track (MUST). Students who complete approximately 200 hours of volunteer time working with medically underserved populations (such as the Free Medical Clinic in Iowa City or the interdisciplinary UI Mobile Health Clinic) and who complete a project addressing the needs of underserved populations will be recognized by the UI Department of Family Medicine at graduation.

Jill Endres, M.D., UI assistant professor (clinical) of family medicine, is associate director of the project. The award also will provide salary support for Predoctoral Education Program staff in family medicine, including Lois Albrecht, program associate; Pamela Hoogerwerf, program coordinator; and Mary Merchant, research assistant.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The HRSA has provided support to various programs in the UI Department of Family Medicine for more than 20 years.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin (writer), 319-335-6660, becky-soglin@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: A photo of Dr. Barcey Levy is available for downloading at http://www.uihealthcare.com/depts/med/familymedicine/faculty/levyb.html