New Center for Primary Care

Primary care may not be dead after all.

Today Dean Jeffrey Flier sent the HMS community an email announcing the creation of a Center for Primary Care. The new center will focus on improving student education in primary care, promoting an extensive national and international network of collaborators, and increasing resources and opportunities for research and innovation.

This announcement comes a year and a half after HMS suspended funding for its Primary Care Division, leading many to question its commitment to primary care. Dean Flier in his email writes that the Center for Primary Care was “made possible by a $30 million anonymous gift…which is without precedent in the United States…Harvard Medical School is and has always been deeply committed to primary care medicine and education.”

The timing of this announcement couldn’t have been more perfect. There is no other field in medicine right now that is receiving as much attention, both positive and negative. It comes at a time when there is a desperate need for more primary care physicians. It comes at a time when primary care is often perceived as a “less reputable” profession. And it comes at a critical juncture of healthcare reform that will determine the future care of millions. Our lecturer today in class, Dr. Tom Lee, CEO of Partners Community Healthcare, Inc. and Network President for Partners Healthcare System, recommended that if we were interested in improving the healthcare system, we should go into primary care because that will allow us to understand the various issues and problems faced by physicians and patients.

I personally am stoked about all of this. I wrote a post a few months ago about my concerns in primary care. In my mind, however, I see these problems less as a disincentive to go into primary care but more as an opportunity to do something about them. There is still so much work left to be done, but the new Center for Primary Care is a step in the right direction. It gives hope to many of us advocates of primary care. And it gives hope to many of us interested in going into primary care but lack the necessary exposure and guidance.

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