reprinted from Issue 10, Spring 2010 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)
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Last October, current and former residents and faculty gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Division of General Internal Medicine (DGIM) and the 35th anniversary of UCSF’s primary care residency program.
“Our residency has been a model since its inception, and we have produced leaders in public health, academia, education, research, clinical work and administration,” said Mitchell Feldman, MD, MPhil, at the event.
DGIM became a separate division in 1980, with Steven Schroeder, MD, Distinguished Professor of Health and Health Care, as its founding chief. In addition to providing outstanding patient care and educating future nleaders in medicine, the division conducts innovative research in areas such as smoking cessation, depression, health disparities and cancer screening. The primary care residency program began in the mid-1970s, and now has more than 330 graduates, including Eric Goosby, MD, global AIDS coordinator with the U.S. Department of State, and Robert Steinbrook, MD, a national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine.
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, chief of the DGIM, says the residency program is based on three pillars. “First, many patients today have chronic illnesses, but actually never require hospitalization,” he says. “A lot of fundamental clinical learning needs to happen in the ambulatory setting. Second, patient-doctor communication is key. This is a learnable skill, just like writing, and we teach it. Third, we try to resolve patients’ problems as much as possible within primary care, and to know when referrals to specialists are needed.” To develop residents’ skills, the program provides rotations in specialties such as orthopedics and dermatology.
For current residents, graduates and faculty, the reunion was an evening of inspiration and appreciation. “Despite the low reimbursement rate for primary care and low salaries… this is work that is meaningful,” says Stephen J. McPhee, MD, who organ-ized the event. “It was really moving to listen to what people have done at different stages of their careers.”
“Our reunion was a rare chance to reconnect with generations of UCSF residents from all corners of the country who have become leaders as general internists,” says Iris Cheng, MD, FACP, a graduate who now serves as medical student clerkship director at Carolinas Medical Center. “I feel privileged to have spent my early professional years in medicine at UCSF, where my love of teaching and practicing general internal medicine was inspired and cultivated.”
“Twenty years past completing residency what strikes me as the most extraordinary about those years was how strong the mentoring was,” says Mitchell H. Katz, MD, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “To this day I still seek career advice from Steve Schroeder… I think it was the strength and breadth of the training that I received that has enabled me to run San Francisco’s health department for these past 12 years.”