Marc Babitz, MD, who now is a division director at the Utah State Department of Health, leads off a section of the 26th National Conference on Primary Health Care Access that will address efforts over the past 50 years in changing the focus of physician education.
Instead of an exclusive reliance on teaching hospital “wards”, movements to incorporate substantive community-based experiences have had success.
A century ago, efforts by the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations led to the implementation throughout the United States of a model of physician education that relied on teaching hospitals, medical research laboratories and postgraduate residency training in medical specialties.
However, once the model became well-established, unintended consequences began to be evident. The emphasis on the types of illnesses seen in the academic teaching proved inadequate in preparing physicians to handle the kinds of patient concerns that they would encounter in medical practice.
This lack of preparation for general practice, in parallel with an emphasis on medical specialties, led to a decline in the number of “generalists”, now referred to as primary care physicians.
Marc Babitz’ Commitment to Community-Oriented Primary Care
Doctor Babitz is an exemplar of these movements. Not only did Dr Babitz attend the University of California at San Francisco, regarded as a supreme example of the specialty-oriented academic medical center, but he was voted his medical school class’ winner of the prestigious Gold-Headed Cane Award.
He proved to be one of the rare Gold-Headed Cane Award winners to choose the then-new specialty of family medicine, entering the residency program in that specialty in Santa Rosa, California, that had been created by Doctor John Geyman (like Dr Babitz, a Senior Fellow of the National Conferences on Primary Health Care Access).
Dr Babitz also pioneered the concept of family medicine residency training in a community health center, making arrangements with the newly-formed National Health Service Corps to permit him to spend the last six months of his residency establishing a new NHSC community-based practice in the rural river town of Guerneville, California.
In 1974 California’s Governor Ronald Reagan appointed Doctor Babitz to the newly-formed California Health Manpower Policy Commission, charged with administering the Song-Brown Family Physician Training Act as the representative of students and residents.
Subsequently Doctor Babitz became a national recognized advocate for community-based primary care [See Proceedings of the First National Conference on Community Health Center – Primary Care Residency Program Linkages, “Community-Oriented Primary Care and the Role of Community Health Centers” (Part 1, Babitz)].
He served both the national and regional offices of the National Health Service Corps, was a member of the faculty of the University of Utah, and, for the past decade has served as a division director within the Utah State Department of Health.
Dr Babitz’ overview on community-based medical education will take place on Monday, April 13, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County, and will be followed by a discussion of issues involved in training physicians in community-based settings by Dr Samuel Matheny of the University of Kentucky [See “Time Will Tell” – Dr Samuel Matheny to Discuss Issues in Community-based Physician Training.]