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Combined Internal-Preventive Medicine Residency

Q&A with Jonathan Berz, MD, MSc

On June 25, 2015, Boston Medical Center launched a combined internal and preventive medicine residency, in collaboration with the Boston University School of Public Health. The combined residency, the only such program of its kind in Massachusetts and one of just five in the U.S., is funded through a five-year Preventive Medicine Grant totaling nearly $2.4 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Here is a Q&A with the program's co-director, Jonathan Berz, MD, MSc.

Q. Why was this combined residency created, and what does it mean for patients?

A. The combined residency was created out of a long-held vision by the former program director of the preventive medicine residency, Dr. Jane Liebschutz. The idea was to synergize two excellent and long-standing training programs at BMC and train internists to have a public health/population health perspective and career orientation. For patients, we expect it will result in a needed increase in the pipeline of physicians who can work on bigger picture strategies and research on disease prevention.

Q. Why pair these two programs rather than two others?

A. The preventive medicine residency at BMC has historically been part of the section of general internal medicine thus there are strong faculty links between it and the internal medicine residency. In the future it might be possible to pair the preventive medicine program with various other residencies, if there is interest and the resources to do so.

Q. Is the program much longer than a traditional residency?

This combined residency takes four years to complete. Typically an internal medicine residency is three years and preventive medicine residency is two years, thus the program shortens the overall training by one year by taking advantage of overlapping training areas in the two programs.

"The idea was to synergize two excellent and long-standing training programs at BMC and train internists to have a public health/population health perspective and career orientation."

Q. What goes into creating a combined residency?

A. A great deal of work among faculty and administration is necessary in order to align vision, curriculum and programming for a new residency. Additionally, time and careful attention must be paid to grant writing to carve out faculty time and resident salaries. As a new residency, the program also had to be approved by both the American boards of internal medicine and preventive medicine, and this was a very time-intensive and detailed process.

Q. Are there any unique attributes of this combined residency?

A. Residents in this new combined program have the opportunity to complete training and develop expertise in public and population health, while also pursuing a fully funded Master of Science degree in health services or epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Q. Why did you choose the new combined internal-preventive medicine residency at Boston Medical Center?

A. I chose the internal-preventive medicine residency at Boston Medical Center because it combines two very strong training programs that will prepare me for a career in both primary care and public health. My areas of interest include LGBT advocacy in healthcare, HIV prevention and treatment, and general infection control. Through this program, I hope to develop a solid foundation in public health and find projects that I can continue to work on after residency. – Krupa Patel, MD

A. Since college, I have been very interested in how food systems contribute towards health and chronic disease. While I enjoy working with patients individually, there is so much potential to affect more lives working at a group or population level on chronic disease. Clinical medicine and public health complement each other very well in that they help me reach out to many people while keeping me grounded with my one-on-one patient experiences. – Jenny Jia, MD

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