Fall 2015
Resident Round-Up

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Family medicine residents in Reno, Nevada.

Double Dose: Travis Walker, M.D.'14 and Bonnie Ferrara, M.D., both look forward to not only getting their MPH degrees, but also to the additional time the extended training program allows them to pursue their interests. Photo by Anne McMillin, APR.

Residency Option Offers MPH Degree

Story by Anne McMillin, APR

With a convergence in the fields of public health and family medicine on the national scene, the University of Nevada School of Medicine is participating in a pilot project that allows family medicine residents to extend their training by a year to allow time to earn the master in public health degree.

This pilot project, called ‘LOT' or Length of Training, is a collaboration between the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Board of Family Medicine and the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education. It is being tested at 17 sites in the U.S., including the school's family medicine residency program in Reno.

The goal is to evaluate whether or not the four-year training cycle and the conference of the MPH degree is a valuable addition to family medicine training.

The first participants began their residency training in 2014 and MPH training this semester. Four of seven second-year residents are taking advantage of the additional learning.

"Essentially, we overlay the MPH training on residency and stretch each by a year to allow for classroom and clinical time," explains Jaren Blake, M.D., family medicine residency program director.

"We spread out the same training over more time to go more slowly and allow these residents time to do their MPH work."

Under this model, the two-year MPH curriculum spreads out over the final three years of the four-year family medicine residency.

Trudy Larson, M.D., director of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno, has glowing praise for the program, saying that it is an acknowledgment that medicine is embracing public health.

"Combining doctors and graduate students in the classroom offers a variable exposure to health. They bring different perspectives to our discussion groups," she said.

"Having doctors in the program enriches the discussion because they are often older and more focused."

With the addition of a year of training, residents in the program are required to study an area of concentration such as obstetrics, sports medicine, wilderness medicine or health administration leadership. The latter is being held in conjunction with Renown Health.

Another requirement includes residents getting out into the community in a non-medical role, volunteering their time to develop their community skills.

Program participant Bonnie Ferrara, M.D., chose the health administration concentration with an eye to transitioning to administration at the end of her career. An avid baseball player, she looks forward to time as a physician to a local high school baseball team.

Travis Walker, M.D. '14, is excited about the extra time in the training that will allow him to tailor his electives to his interests: obstetrics and gynecology.

"I want to deliver babies and feel confident in C-section procedures by the end of my residency," he said.

Blake said that if these four-year residents are more successful in the future, this training could fundamentally change the way family medicine residents are trained.

Larson added that in addition to the areas of concentration within the residency training, program participants are also required to complete the same requirements as any MPH candidate, including a public health concentration in epidemiology, social behavioral health or health administration and policy.

Miriam Bar-on, M.D., associate dean for graduate medical education, is optimistic about the training as it relates to academic medicine.

"I'm encouraged that this will help prepare physicians for careers in academic medicine and will encourage more to do so," she said, adding that the availability of the LOT program was an attractive recruiting tool for those residents now enrolled in the program.