The Population Health Scholars Program is cause for celebration

In April, leaders and physicians from the University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare came together to celebrate. Also among the participants were 11 first-year medical students, the inaugural cohort of the Intermountain Healthcare Population Health Researcher Program.

This first-of-its-kind medical education partnership between the University of Utah’s Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine and Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) is now one year old. Its goal: to improve health and well-being by training future physicians to provide high-quality care using an innovative population health framework.

Population health addresses the factors that can lead to disease and injury and works to prevent them. It also takes into account the social determinants that can affect health, including financial, social and behavioral problems.

In addition to learning population health, program fellows pay half tuition for medical school and have a guaranteed job offer with Intermountain Healthcare after completing their residency.

A valued and valued partnership

At the April celebration, leaders from both health systems praised the program’s creation and goals. They also highlighted the importance of population health to the future of health care.

“My very first encounter on my very first day at the University of Utah was with Dr. Marc Harrison,” said Michael Good, MD, CEO of U of U Health. “I will always remember him, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to partner with him again on this program. Marc and I both believe in the health of the population, in the future and in how we will be able to address many, if not all, of the challenges of the US healthcare system.I don’t think any of our organizations could have created a program like this on our own.

“Mike is collaborative and positive,” said Marc Harrison, MD, President and CEO of IHC. “We both knew that this partnership and this program could change the paradigm of healthcare. We started with a blank sheet of paper and received a lot of help from many hard working people to get to where we are today.

Speaking to university students in the program, Harrison noted that while Intermountain Healthcare is great at population health, there’s still a lot to learn. “Health care in the United States is badly damaged,” he said. “Scholars in this program are the solution.”

“We have to figure out how to keep people healthy, not just take care of them when they’re sick,” Harrison continued. “We also need to put in place an economic system that makes it sustainable to keep people healthy. Anything is possible, but it will take your leadership and courage to get us through this.

An experience like no other

Karyn A. Springer, MD, of IHC commented on the program opportunities. “Those who have been medical students before know that it’s not a common thing to be able to connect with those who are leading doctors,” she said. “The success of healthcare in the future will depend on our leadership, and this program gives our researchers the opportunity to ask questions of leading physicians and get advice and support on how to grow not only as a future doctor, but a future leader. in health care.

Fellows are enthusiastic and ready to make the most of every classroom opportunity and work with physician mentors. In the first year alone, researchers were exposed to population health concepts ranging from health care policy to the social determinants of health impacting surrounding communities.

“I am super excited and impressed that the leaders here tonight are proactively providing us with opportunities and expressing the expectation that they want us to be leaders and forge the path of what healthcare will look like in the future” , said program researcher Collin Hunter. “We have a great class and an opportunity to be leaders in our own class and champion the changes we want to see in health care.”

Another researcher, Ivy Hansen, is grateful the program gives her the opportunity to connect with different health systems in Utah.

“Learning about Intermountain has been great because we just have this experience with the U, and it’s very academic,” she said. “Getting out into the community and seeing different populations across the state in the Intermountain system has been really awesome. We are really going somewhere with this program.

Jordan Tucker, another researcher, noted the validation of being in a program with so much freedom to explore one’s interests. ” Whether it be [with] rural or homeless people, it’s exciting…that I can choose a path that I’m passionate about,” he said.

Researcher Rebekah Ford agreed. “It was really enlightening for me to hear all the different ways we can take this program and adapt it to what we find interesting and important,” she said.

An agenda for the future of healthcare

For everyone attending the celebration – leaders, scholars and mentors – the future of healthcare looks bright thanks to programs like this. Physicians like Springer look forward to the positive impact of the partnership between U of U Health and IHC.

“The vision of the future is exciting because it is an opportunity to start upstream in medical education,” she said. “To have a pool of future doctors who have been exposed to population health from the start of their medical training. [They’re] better prepared to direct health care where it needs to be.

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