Increasing resident recruitment into family medicine: effect of a unique curriculum in integrative medicine

Patricia Lebensohn, Sally Dodds, Audrey J Brooks, Paula Cook, Mary Guerrera, Victor Sierpina, Raymond Teets, John Woytowicz, Victoria Maizes
Explore: the Journal of Science and Healing 2014, 10 (3): 187-92

INTRODUCTION: Healthcare reform is highlighting the need for more family practice and other primary care physicians. The Integrative Medicine in Residency (IMR) curriculum project helped family medicine residencies pilot a new, online curriculum promoting prevention, patient-centered care competencies, use of complementary and alternative medicine along with conventional medicine for management of chronic illness. A major potential benefit of the IMR program is enhanced recruitment into participating residencies, which is reported here.

METHODS: Using an online questionnaire, accepted applicants to the eight IMR pilot programs (n = 152) and four control programs (n = 50) were asked about their interests in learning integrative medicine (IM) and in the pilot sites how the presence of the IMR curriculum affected their ranking decisions.

RESULTS: Of residents at the IMR sites, 46.7% reported that the presence of the IMR was very important or important in their ranking decision. The IMR also ranked fourth overall in importance of ranking after geography, quality of faculty, and academic reputation of the residency. The majority of IMR residents (87.5%) had high to moderate interest in learning IM during their residency; control residents also had a high interest in learning IM (61.2%).

CONCLUSIONS: The presence of the IMR curriculum was seen as a strong positive by applicants in ranking residencies. Increasing the adoption of innovative IM curricula, such as the IMR, by residency programs may be helpful in increasing applications of competitive medical students into primary care residencies as well as in responding to the expressed interest in learning the IM approach to patient care.

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