Students Gather to Ponder Primary Care

Invite 23 inquisitive graduate-level students to an event with a keynote speaker steeped in knowledge about a shared topic of interest, and watch the passion explode.
That’s exactly what happened recently at American Medical Student Association (AMSA)( headquarters in Sterling, Va., where the second annual Primary Care Interprofessional Leadership Institute was held Feb. 7-9. Students from a variety of health professions programs gathered to learn more about primary care and interprofessional team-based training.

Event organizers tapped Andrew Bazemore, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care(, as the speaker to launch the weekend conference.

“He did exactly what we wanted him to do in sparking interest and getting the wheels turning for the weekend,” said Katie Eggerman, a third-year medical student at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the co-coordinator for the 2014 event, in an interview with AAFP News.


Participants were handpicked from 130 applications received from around the country. The students are training to become allopathic or osteopathic primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or pharmacists.

Organizers aimed to give participants a good understanding of what a patient-centered interprofessional primary care practice should look like. In turn, participants are expected to use the knowledge and skills gained to implement projects at their home institutions that will promote exactly that kind of primary care in their communities.

Bazemore used his prime-time slot to engage students with a bit of history about the development of primary care and to highlight the critical role that primary care plays in the current U.S. health care system.

His slide presentation, titled “Building Teams to Deliver 21st Century Primary Care,” served as a backdrop to introduce a variety of topics, such as

  • how to address the nation’s primary care workforce shortage,
  • assure the future of primary care teams,
  • foster team culture and structure, and
  • work through primary care payment challenges.

“We had in that room students and probable future leaders from across the primary care provider disciplines taking the initiative to overcome temptations to defend disciplinary turf and, instead, look for ways to promote training together,” said Bazemore.

“The primary care training pipeline is threatened for all of the provider groups, and we all need to commit to reforming it together,” he added.

Bazemore used every second of his allotted speaking time and, according to Eggerman, “had a crowd of students around him asking additional questions,” even as the next presenter prepared to speak.

A week later, recalling those students who peppered him with questions about workforce and pipeline issues and sources for the evidence he presented, Bazemore noted, “It was an engaged group of learners hungry for more information and evidence about primary care, its history and its future.”

According to Bazemore, several students were interested in the Graham Center Larry A. Green Visiting Scholars Program( “This is a great way to come work with our team to help create new evidence that might inform primary care policymakers about training and the need for teams,” he said.

Unfortunately, other commitments limited Bazemore’s time with the students to just a few hours the first day of the conference.

“I wish I could have stayed and been a fly on the wall,” said Bazemore. “I would absolutely have loved to watch an interdisciplinary group of students — committed to working together to improve and deliver primary care — come up with solutions as to how to capture this elusive goal of team-based training. They know first-hand their schools and the barriers.”

Eggerman recalled that as the weekend concluded, students shared their favorite moments. Their comments revealed a common theme that she described as an “unexpected connectivity” with students from other schools and even other health care disciplines.

“They realized they were not alone in their passion for primary care,” said Eggerman.

This article originally published at on February 18, 2014 by Sheri Porter. Read it there, click here