The current renaissance of interest in primary care could benefit from reviewing the history of federal investment in academic family medicine. The authors review 30 years of experience with the Title VII, Section 747 Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry (Title VII) grant program, addressing three questions: (1) What Title VII grant programs were available to family medicine, and what were their goals? (2) How did Title VII change the discipline? and (3) What impact did Title VII family medicine programs have outside the discipline?
Title VII grant programs evolved from broad support for the new discipline of family medicine to a sharper focus on specific national workforce objectives such as improving care for underserved and vulnerable populations and increasing diversity in the health professions. Grant programs were instrumental in establishing family medicine in nearly all medical schools and in supporting the educational underpinnings of the field. Title VII grants helped enhance the social capital of the discipline. Outside family medicine, Title VII fostered the development of innovative ambulatory education, institutional initiatives focusing on underserved and vulnerable populations, and primary care research capacity. Adverse effects include relative inattention to clinical and research missions in family medicine academic units and, institutionally, the development of medical education initiatives without core institutional support, which has put innovation and extension of education to communities at risk as grant funding has decreased.
Reinvestment in academic family medicine can yield substantial benefits for family medicine and help reorient academic health centers.
This article is part of a theme issue of Academic Medicine on the Title VII health professions training programs.
Dr. Newton is William B. Aycock Distinguished Chair and professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Ms. Arndt is associate director, Fellowship Programs, Department of Family Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Newton, Department of Family Medicine, CB #7595, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7595; telephone: (919) 966-5600; fax: (919) 966-6125; e-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org).