Teaching health centers (THCs) are primary care residency training sites in community-based organizations, often in federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), in contrast to traditional tertiary care hospital-based training. Federal funding for the THC program, created by the ACA in 2010 and renewed through MACRA in 2015, is set to expire on September 30, 2017.
THCs may be a key part in solving the primary care workforce shortage, so we talked with Dr. Frederick Chen, Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Washington and a recent senior advisor to HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions for the Teaching Health Center program.
We review flaws in traditional methods of funding graduate medical education in the US (2:50) then discuss Freddy’s research (8:15) showing that residents trained in FQHCs are 3-4 times more likely to go work in underserved settings. He also describes the key factors in creating community health center-family medicine residency partnership (12:20). Freddy’s work led to the THC graduate medical education program, an innovative federal policy that aims to increase access to primary care where it is needed the most, and we talk about some of the early lessons since its inception (18:50). You can also find the controversial 2014 Institute of Medicine report mentioned by Freddy in our conversation here. Finally, Freddy shares about how his academic career led him to help shape national health policy (23:07).
Listen at the end of the episode for a promo code to receive 15% off registration fees for an upcoming conference from the Harvard Center for Primary Care: Primary Care in 2020 – Future Challenges, Tips for Today.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.