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Foundation awards $2.7 million to increase supply of generalists.

Eighteen U.S. medical schools will participate in a $32 million grant program to plan new ways to select and train students who will become family practitioners, general internists, and pediatricians, officials at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have announced.

The 18 schools, chosen from among 83 applicant institutions nationwide, received 18-month awards of up to $150,000 each from the Princeton, New Jersey-based philanthropy. The medical schools will work cooperatively with State governments, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), private insurers, and others to formulate their program strategy. The schools' strategies will include plans that will alter medical school admissions policies and undergraduate medical education curricula, improve residency training programs, and strengthen the practice environment for practicing generalist physicians. The program is called the Generalist Physician Initiative.

"The tendency of physicians to choose highly focused medical specialties and subspecialties has important implications for the kind of medical care offered in the United States, who gets it and where, and how much it costs," said Steven A. Schroeder, M. D., president of the RWJF. "An oversupply of specialists is inefficient, expensive, and creates barriers to appropriate care," he added.

After the 18-month development phase, up to 12 of the 18 schools will be awarded 6-year grants averaging $2.5 million each to implement their plans, Dr. Schroeder said.

The program is being directed by Jack M. Colwill, M.D., professor and chairman of the department of family and community medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia. According to Dr. Colwill, the participating medical schools are receiving enthusiastic support from their State governments, as well as private insurers and HMOs because these groups recognize that the supply of generalist physicians affects the cost of health care and people's access to it.

In addition to this Generalist Physician Initiative are these RWJF efforts:

* Practice Sights - a 4-year, $16.5 million effort challenging States to improve the distribution of primary care providers in underserved inner city and rural areas.

* Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars Program - a 4-year, $14.4 million effort to strengthen the career development of outstanding generalist physician faculty.

* Preparing Physicians for the Future - a $22-million effort that currently is funding 8 medical schools to make curricula improvements in the teaching of the basic sciences and clinical training.
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Title Annotation:Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Publication:Health Care Financing Review
Date:Dec 22, 1992
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