The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has been awarded a five-year, $1.48 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help build a prevention workforce by increasing the number of care providers with public health skills practicing in medically underserved areas of Texas and the southwestern United States.

The project, “Primary Care Plus: Preparing a Prevention Workforce to Promote Population Health,” will be directed by Laura Rudkin, professor and interim chairwoman of the UTMB department of preventive medicine and community health.

The UTMB project aims to: 

·         Provide faculty development activities and staff support needed to facilitate curriculum development and its effective delivery;

·         Develop and deliver an integrated primary care/public health curriculum that reaches all M.D. and Master of Physician Assistant Studies students and a more intensive curriculum, including a dual degree option to M.D. and MPAS students committed to careers in primary care; and

·         Recruit, educate and graduate a potential prevention workforce that approximates the demographic diversity of the state’s population.

“We are excited to be able to expand public health training at UTMB by creating new learning modules, electives and community placement experiences for medical and physician assistant students,” said Rudkin. “We also look forward to assisting interested faculty members in integrating public health content into existing courses.”

Rudkin is a social epidemiologist and demographer with a primary research interest in the influence of social factors on health outcomes. Her educational research and program development activities focus on service learning, blended curricula, and the integration of public health and medicine. 

Key faculty participating in the project include Drs. Christine Arcari and Melanie de Boer in the department of preventive medicine and community health, Dr. Judith Rowen in educational affairs, Ann Frye in educational development, and Holly West in physician assistant studies. 

Additional faculty from the departments of PMCH, internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine will also be funded to develop curricular materials and to mentor students. The grant also includes an affiliation with Hope Clinic and Federally Qualified Health Centers clinic in southwest Houston.