JOURNAL ARTICLE

The education of physicians: a CDC perspective

Denise Koo, Stephen B Thacker
Academic Medicine 2008, 83 (4): 399-407
18367903
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly supports integrating population health perspectives into the education of physicians. Physicians with critical-thinking skills, a commitment to the health of a community, and a systems-based approach are critical partners for the agency in its mission to protect and promote the public's health. To cultivate such physicians, integrating population health concepts solely into undergraduate medical education would be inadequate. A multipronged approach that establishes and maintains population health concepts with physicians at all stages of their education is needed: before medical school, during medical school, during residency and fellowship, and in research and practice (particularly for faculty who train the next generation). The authors describe relevant, CDC-conducted or CDC-supported activities that support such physician education during all these stages. Based in part on recent, cutting-edge trends assimilating community health particularly into primary care residencies, the authors also offer ideas for new ways that CDC can participate in the development of physicians who are truly competent at both medicine and population health in an integrated fashion -- physicians who focus on and care for individual patients but who also take a broader population or community perspective and can act effectively in either arena. Physicians who take such a systems approach -- who view and understand medicine and public health as a continuum rather than as distinct arenas -- are sorely needed to help solve the current health system crisis and to contribute to improving health in other ways.

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