Family medicine is a central and vital component of our health care system now and far into the future. Family physicians are on the frontlines of medicine, providing personalized, first-contact care for adults and children, and helping them navigate through today’s complex medical system. Ohio State’s Department of Family Medicine is at the forefront of this increasingly important medical field, providing exemplary patient care, innovative medical education, and advanced research.
What is Family Medicine?
Family physicians provide comprehensive and continuous primary care health care to individuals and families regardless of age or disease. While other areas of medicine focus on particular body systems or diseases, family physicians specialize in one-on-one patient care—getting to know well a patient’s health, history, family background, and lifestyle. This intimate understanding helps family physicians provide their patients with high-quality care to encourage healthier, more satisfying lives.
The close relationship between physician and patient, which is the foundation of family medicine, is increasingly important as medicine becomes more complex, technology-centered, and focused on preventative care. Family physicians humanize health care by acting as a partner to their patients, utilizing their medical knowledge and interpersonal skills to help individuals make the best health care decisions and improve their overall well-being.
The personal and holistic nature of family medicine is particularly well-suited to the new practice of personalized healthcare, which integrates medical and individual support based on a patient’s unique biological, behavioral, and environmental characteristics. Family medicine can aptly be described as the right care for the right person at the right time. It is tailored, proactive and empowering, and leads to improved patient outcomes by focusing on keeping patients healthy, not just reacting to and treating illness. Through the careful collection of personal histories, including family characteristics, lifestyles, and living conditions, we can better identify a patient’s health risks. Armed with this critical knowledge, family physicians can develop individualized programs that encourage healthy, productive lives.
Ohio State’s Department of Family Medicine is consistently ranked among the best in the nation. However, the Department has set an ambitious goal of being one of the top 10 programs by the end of the decade. The physicians, researchers, and staff of the Department are working to excel in every way to improve the lives of patients and demonstrate the outstanding work being done at Ohio State.
Personalized Clinical Care
The Department of Family Medicine offers personalized medical services through locations at the Wexner Medical Center at The Ohio State University and many family medicine centers located throughout Columbus and Franklin County. These centers feature family medicine teams with physicians, residents, nurses, medical technicians, and mental health experts working together to ensure patients receive excellent, personal health care services.
Family Medicine offers a wide-range of services, including: physical examinations, wellness care, pediatric services, care for sports-related injuries, women’s healthcare, acute and chronic care, family and marital counseling, psychological services, minor surgery, and much more. In addition, as part of one of the nation’s top-ranked medical centers, Family Medicine has access to nationally and internationally recognized specialists and support services.
Through its varied training tracks, the Department brings patient care to underserved communities. In addition to providing much-needed health care, these programs teach physicians-in-training how to adapt their skills and style in culturally relevant ways to meet the needs of the individual patient in unique communities.
The Department of Family Medicine’s Division of Sports Medicine, in conjunction with the Department of Orthopaedics, offers everyday athletes and anyone pursuing an active lifestyle the same care and expertise that they give to Ohio State’s student athletes. Sports medicine is not limited musculoskeletal care but, like other areas of family medicine, touches all areas on the spectrum of medical care. A new sports medicine facility, which will be located on Ohio State’s Athletic campus, is currently in the planning phase. This new facility will bring all sports medicine clinical and research programs under one roof, improving access and quality of care for all our patients in a truly multidisciplinary manner.
Focused Medical Education
Developing the next generation of family physicians is a crucial mission for the Department of Family Medicine. According to a report by the Council on Graduate Medical Education, by 2020 there will be a deficit of more than 85,000 physicians in the U.S. In order to meet the health care needs of our growing aging population we must step-up our training of a new generation of family physicians.
It is not enough to simply recruit more medical students into the field. We must find the right students for the profession—students with “the heart of a family physician.” These altruistic medical students must come with a strong desire to understand and serve their patients and communities and to help them live healthier, happier lives. Ohio State has a strong tradition of family medicine education. In fact, for over ten years in a row the American Academy of Family Physicians has recognized the Family Medicine Interest Group at the OSU College of Medicine with its Program of Excellence Award.
Many medical students are attracted to family medicine because they see it as a personally fulfilling career path that will allow them to serve their communities. However, as the costs of medical education have increased rapidly in recent years and students find themselves deeply in debt at the end of their medical training, many young physicians find that they must turn away from their dreams of becoming a family physicians and choose more lucrative specialties in order to repay their student loans. Medical education scholarships and debt forgiveness programs can help offset the heavy burden of education-related debt, enabling more students to choose a rewarding career in family medicine.
The shared goal of the multidisciplinary research programs of the Department of Family Medicine is to improve the quality of life and care for patients—especially for common illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease—enabling them to live longer, more satisfying lives.
The clinical research conducted by the Department is patient-focused and practice-based. With the establishment of our practice-based research network, Ohio State is now a leader in moving family medicine research out of the laboratory and into the community. This enables physicians and researchers to quickly translate new discoveries into new treatments for patients.
The Department is already making great strides towards its goal of being a nationally recognized family medicine research center with a three-fold increase in published research, a significant rise in research funding, and new clinical trials. However, as NIH funding often focuses on the basic and clinical sciences instead of primary care research, more resources are needed to ensure Ohio State can continue grow its innovate family medicine research program.
Community Outreach and Education
Community service and patient education are important elements of Family Medicine. Ohio State is proud to support community health programs such as the Columbus Free Clinic, La Clinica Latina, and the Asian Health Initiative. These programs are uniquely adapted to these underserved areas, providing vital support by placing physicians in those communities by offering relevant and culturally aware care.
Family Medicine also works to educate patients and the public about disease management and prevention and healthy lifestyles through our communications and community programs, such as healthy cooking classes, home exercise programs, and nutrition awareness seminars.
Opportunities for Support
Providing resources to support our faculty’s research, education, clinical, and service efforts is essential to the long-term success of our department. To ensure that we can recruit and retain the best and brightest in Family Medicine—whether students, residents, fellows, or faculty—numerous opportunities are available to give. Won’t you please consider the possibility of a one-time gift, annual giving, or both?