Distinctive New BW Pre-Med Program Addresses Primary Care Shortage

October 1, 2013

Baldwin Wallace University has unveiled a new academic program aimed at developing a pipeline of pre-med students committed to primary care.

BW's Primary Healthcare Advancement Program is a distinctive pre-med track focused on disease prevention and the development of future primary care physicians to address a nationwide shortage in the field.

Currently, 64 percent of Ohio’s counties have a shortage of primary care doctors, and the American Academy of Family Physicians has predicted a shortfall of 40,000 family physicians across the U.S. by 2020. That number could be even higher as the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obama-care) brings uninsured patients into the system and reorients U.S. healthcare toward prevention and wellness.

BW Program Differs from Typical Pre-Med Approach

Starting in the Fall 2014 semester, BW’s Primary Healthcare Advancement Program will blend coursework from the University’s Public Health major with a medically oriented science curriculum, giving students the undergraduate foundation needed to successfully pursue primary care medical training.

“No other institution has a program like this which educates students about the significance and importance of primary care medicine at the undergraduate level – before they’ve been indoctrinated otherwise,” said Dr. Joseph P. Yavornitzky, BW professor and director of the program. “The traditional pre-med approach usually includes a list of basic science courses added to the students' major of choice.”

Yavornitzky says BW's "selective pre-med pathway is linked to the first-year curriculum of primary care-focused medical schools." A problem-solving medical case study course is also included, which will allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world medical diagnosis.

The program will target students from medically underserved, rural and urban Ohio communities, with the idea that they are likely to return home to pursue their medical practice.

BW Meets Growing Need with Focus on Primary Care Professions

“This new pre-med program, added to our Public Health major for undergrads, Accelerated Nursing second bachelor's program, and Physician Assistant graduate degree, will prepare BW students to meet growing needs in the primary healthcare field.” said BW President Robert C. Helmer.

Successful completion of the new program should prepare students to better compete for admission to primary care-focused medical schools. BW is currently working to finalize agreements that will allow students in this new program to apply for early admission to medical school, based on their intent to practice primary care.

(Update 11/19/13: The first of those agreements was signed with Ohio University and its Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in November 2013.)

(Update 6/16/2014: A second agreement was signed with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) in June 2014.)

For more information on BW’s Primary Healthcare Advancement Program, call Dr. Yavornitzky at 440-826-3539.