Unlike many independent medical groups, Atrius Health has the great responsibility of training the next generation of medical professionals. Our physicians teach at some of the top medical schools in the world, and medical residents learn how to provide holistic, patient-centered care in Atrius Health’s primary care setting. Our nurse instructors provide instruction in direct care practicums or rotations focused on leadership, research, informatics, and quality. Partnerships with local universities also allow training opportunities for students in pharmacy, physical therapy, health sciences, and imaging.
So when Sarah Post was searching for an internal medicine residency to give her the same kind of on-the-ground experience she’d had volunteering while working in global health, the joint program between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Atrius Health looked like a perfect fit.
“I was just completely taken with the program,” said Dr. Post, now a part-time primary care physician at Atrius Health and a Clinician Educator in the Atrius Health Center for Education. “This program is unique in that it really tosses you in the water, giving trainees an amazing opportunity to practice medicine in a way that’s not typical for most of these training programs, where people are more practicing in academic hospital centers.”
Most internal medicine residency training takes place in a hospital setting where residents frequently don’t have the benefit of developing relationships with patients over long periods of time. Even those that focus on primary care training are still typically based in hospital-affiliated clinics, so residents are linked to the hospital setting and organizational structure.
Atrius Health’s joint residencies with both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center put future physicians in an independent non-profit and patient-focused primary care setting.
“The Atrius Health system is an outstanding place to be a primary care doctor,” says Dr. Post. “There’s very good support for primary care. You really feel that as a physician practicing here. So, as a resident, you get a feel for what that’s like.”
Post’s residency resonated with her so much that she jumped at the chance to work at Atrius Health after residency and decided to pay it forward by teaching the next generation of doctors how impactful excellent primary care can be.
Post sees patients, and she also holds three different teaching responsibilities. First, she brings students who are just a few weeks into Harvard Medical School (HMS) into the clinic to show them how primary care functions. She also teaches in the HMS Primary Care Clerkship, where students come to Atrius Health once per week for an afternoon to work with a primary care doctor. Lastly, she mentors in the same residency program that so positively affected her. At the start of the residency, residents are guided by mentors like Post in their caregiving and decision-making. By the end, they should be ready to take on the responsibility of patient care on their own.
“The goal is that by the end of the three years that [my resident] spent with me and his two other preceptors, he is practicing independently as a primary care doctor,” says Dr. Post, of her current resident.
Between the Beth Israel and Brigham programs, Atrius Health hosts about 20 residents per year. And all-told, about 1000 students have been taught by Atrius Health clinicians over the last three years. Having the up-and-coming clinicians working alongside seasoned doctors benefits patients as well as students.
“Patients get excellent care when students or residents participate in their visits. The learners are very thorough, engaged, and thoughtful,” says Post. “Many of my patients enjoy being able to participate in teaching also—they get to contribute to the education and training of the next generation of doctors and this can be very meaningful.”
And being responsible for this education ensures mentors are up-to-date on all the latest tech and treatments.
“The learners I work with also really keep me on my toes in terms of clinical skills—they ask so many questions about clinical issues, physical exam skills, the latest guidelines, and evidence,” says Dr. Post. “I am definitely a better doctor for all my patients because of the teaching that I do, and I suspect this is true for a lot of our faculty.”
And the education doesn’t stop once clinicians are on-staff at Atrius Health. The Center for Education offers a range of in-house courses, rotations, lectures, and webinars, many of which are offered for continuing medical education credit.
“The opportunity to teach makes my job so interesting,” says Dr. Post. “Engaging with learners reminds me why I wanted to take care of patients in the first place. It gives me the motivation to serve as a model for the next group of doctors.”
To help support Atrius Health’s vision of transforming care to improve lives, please consider a donation to the Atrius Health Foundation. The Atrius Health Foundation and Atrius Health are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.