Chair's Notes

The summer is approaching an end, and the school year has started. After a dry and relatively warm winter, the summer was hotter and drier than usual in Seattle—I hope those who do not believe that global warming is happening have been watching. Much is happening in your Department of Family Medicine—we are making progress in many areas, and many parts of the strategic plan that we developed 5 years ago have been accomplished. It is almost time to begin another strategic planning cycle.

Chair Transition:
In early August I met with Dean Ramsey and informed him of my intention to retire on January 1, 2016. I am completing my 40th year since residency, my 23rd year at UW, and my 5th year as Chair. I have had the privilege of serving medical education as a preceptor and attending physician in practice in Montana and the Navy, as a Residency Program Director at Tacoma Family Medicine, as an Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Vice Dean at UWSOM, in addition to my current role as tenured Professor and Chair. I have served my fellow family physicians as an officer, president, and AAFP Delegate from the Montana Academy of Family Physicians; as an officer, trustee, president, and AAFP Delegate from the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, as an officer and president of the WAFP Foundation, as a director and president of the American Board of Family Medicine, as a director, officer and board chair of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and as a director on the Board of the Association of Departments of Family Medicine. I have loved every job that I have held, my patients, and my colleagues. I have appreciated your confidence in my leadership and the opportunities that you have given me. Thank you!
During the next several months Dean Ramsey will appoint a member of our Department to serve as Interim Chair from January 1, 2016, until a new Chair is appointed. He will also appoint a Search Committee that will be chaired by the Chair of one of our Clinical Departments.

Our Department has grown to the point that it now has seven sections—each representing a function defined area. Several of the sections will provide information in this newsletter, but I want to give you an overview of activities—

Medical Student Education (MSE):
Our medical student education program is doing well. As I have previously reported, our school has been involved in a massive curriculum renewal project for the last 2-3 years. Many members of our Department have been engaged in this effort. As a result of the Curriculum Renewal, several big changes will occur, including shortening the basic science phase by several months, starting clinical exposure earlier, and providing a period for career exploration at the end of medical school. Medical students will have an increased exposure to Family Medicine in the new curriculum. Next week students at all of the WWAMI first year campuses (including Seattle) will start school with a Clinical Immersion Experience that was designed by a Department member. During their entire basic science study (now called the Foundation of Clinical Care), they will have a regular half-day in a primary care office (mostly Family Medicine) every other week. This experience is called the Primary Care Practicum, and it was also designed by another family physician faculty member. Many practicing family physicians have generously volunteered to be teachers in this new program. Our required third year clerkship remains intact, and we will have the opportunity to strengthen our fourth year sub-internship experiences. Additionally, many of our faculty members will be involved in other courses and programs that will be important components of the medical education experience. Our goal is to increase the number of UW students entering Family Medicine residencies, and I think the new curriculum will help.

UW Family Medicine Residency:
Our new class of first year residents (7 female and 1 male), has started well. The gender make-up of the class is representative of the changes taking place in medical schools and Family Medicine residencies nationwide.   When I started medical school in the late 60’s, our class of about 200 had fewer than 10 women. In residency, there were no women in my six person class. The situation has changed dramatically, and I see this as a big improvement. Like all of the other Family Medicine residencies in our network, we are incorporating new resident evaluation methods. Changes in the Seattle health systems are also leading to changes in our residency. With Group Health’s decision to close their OB facility and move to Swedish, we lost our second year OB rotation site. As a result, we have developed a new OB rotation site at Northwest Hospital.
More family doctors are needed, and we continue our efforts to expand the residency. We are currently an 8-8-8 program with 6 residents per year practicing at the UW Northgate Clinic, 2 per year practicing at Harborview Family Medicine, and our inpatient service at UWMC. We are hoping that we can expand the Harborview contingent to 6 per year and have again applied for this expansion.
In addition to residency positions, we continue to offer several fellowships at the R-4 level, including our Chief Resident position, an ACGME-accredited Sports Medicine and Palliative Care fellowships, and a non-accredited self-sustaining Global Health fellowship. Fellowship training is increasingly popular for Family Medicine residency graduates.

UW WWAMI Family Medicine Residency Network:
With strong support from the WAFP, the WSMA, and others, we were successful in obtaining increased financial support for all of the Family Medicine Residencies in our state from the Washington State Legislature. This support moves us back to the levels of state funding that were in place prior to the 2008 recession and will be very helpful to residency programs. The new support includes restructuring the governance/oversight system– the Family Medicine Educational Advisory Board. The reorganized board will be co-chaired by UW and Pacific Northwest University. It will also include legislators and public members. The Board will begin meeting this fall.
One of the exciting new zones of focus for the Residency Network is in the area of assisting Washington’s osteopathic Family Medicine residencies in meeting the ACGME unified standards. This must be accomplished by 2020, and this transition will allow the osteopathic programs to become part of the WWAMI network. Progress is being made in this important effort.

MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program:
With a class of over 120 students per year, MEDEX Northwest is one of the oldest and largest Physician Assistant training programs in the US. I was privileged last week to attend graduation ceremonies for the first MEDEX class to complete their two year training program at the new UW Tacoma campus. This class, half of whom were veterans, will carry on the MEDEX focus on primary care practice.

Sports Medicine:
Our Sports Medicine Section’s practice is located at the Stadium Clinic beneath Husky Stadium. Football season is a very busy time for this group because they provide primary care support for the Huskies and the SeaHawks.

Palliative Care:
The newest section in the Department is Palliative Care, and the section continues to grow. Jim Fausto, a family physician who had directed the Palliative Care Service at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, has joined us in the role of Associate Director of Palliative Care at UWMC.

The Research Section is growing and thriving. We anticipate receiving 30% more extramural funding this year than last. The group has developed a new informational page which will be attached to this newsletter.
I am pleased to report that we have recruited Ian Bennett, MD, PhD as the newest member of our Research Section. Ian has been a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Family Medicine since 2004. He continues to practice full spectrum Family Medicine, including OB. One of his major research areas of focus is post-partum depression, with studies often done in collaboration with Psychiatry. Ian’s research has been very well funded,

In closing,
I want to thank all of you for the support and encouragement that you provide both to our Department and to me personally. We are doing well and making progress, but we could not do it without you.
Tom E. Norris, MD
Professor and Chair
University of Washington Department of Family Medicine