Although they were from two different cultures and areas of the world, their lives intersected when they made the decision to become osteopathic physicians and commit service to the medically underserved. Now both are on a path dedicated to serving underserved populations through Community Health Centers (CHC) and narrowing the primary care physician gap.
Anne Halsey, DO ’12, A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA), and Ernesto Jimenez, DO ’13, A.T. Still University-Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM), are now ATSU PGY-2 family medicine residents at Unity Health Care CHCs in Washington D.C. Eleni O’Donovan, MD, serves as mentor for both resident physicians. Their residencies, which started in June and July 2013, are possible because of a partnership formed with ATSU, Unity Health Care, Inc., and The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education (WCGME) of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The establishment of the District of Columbia’s first residency and medical training community campus was celebrated in April 2014.
Dr. Halsey who grew up in Virginia and Texas, and Dr. Jimenez who was born and raised in Panama City, Panama and south Florida, both knew that they wanted to be physicians at different ages. Dr. Halsey originally wanted to become a kindergarten teacher but changed her mind after taking a course in biology in high school. Dr. Jimenez knew he wanted to be a physician from a very early age. “My father was instrumental in helping me with this dream,” he said. “I was fascinated with the human body and the amazing way that it works and self-regulates. I also love to teach and serve, and medicine was a great avenue for both passions.”
The innovative family residency program, in which Drs. Halsey and Jimenez participate, is funded through a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and will place 87 graduates over three years in CHCs around the country. The program focuses on addressing the primary care physician shortage in underserved areas through “homegrown” recruitment strategies for medical education and residency programs. The program also encourages local students to become primary care physicians who practice within their home communities.
Given an insight into healthcare policy
Both Drs. Halsey and Jimenez completed a Health Policy Fellowship at George Washington (GW) University’s School of Public Health in 2015. It is offered twice each academic year, and it is usually only opened to GW residents interested in health policy. “Annie Halsey and I were fortunate to go through this intensive, three-week course,” said Dr. Jimenez. “We covered all aspects of health policy, including healthcare access, financing, regulation, quality disparities, education and workforce policy, public health protection, and health law. I now have a better appreciation and understanding of national health policy and its implications for medical practice and healthcare in the U.S.”
“Through the fellowship, I joined residents from various GW programs, pediatric residents from Children’s National Medical Center, and a few residents from other programs,” said Dr. Halsey. “Our days comprised lectures, and we were also able to visit federal organizations around the city, including the Office of Budget and Management, the Senate and House of Representatives, the AAMC, the Supreme Court, The Heritage Foundation, and other groups affecting policy. The fellowship prompted me to think about and seek answers to questions about how policy affects my current and future practice.”
All in a day’s work
For Dr. Jimenez, who is married and has four children, family medicine affords him the building of relationships with families and the community. “I want to grow with a patient and their family and have the time to educate patients about their health,” said Dr. Jimenez. “I feel strongly about teaching preventive care and helping my patients stay out of the hospital, and know that I can achieve this in family medicine. Also being Latino, I have a strong connection to the Latino community who make up a large percentage of the patients I see. I have been given a great opportunity through the Wright Center and ATSU to train in a CHC.”
Dr. Halsey commented that choosing a family medicine residency at a CHC was a great fit. “I wanted to work in an urban underserved environment, and I identified with the mission of Community Health Centers.”
There are few typical days for Drs. Halsey and Jimenez, but they generally involve patient care, often in clinic or the hospital. “I value patient experiences, most notably seeing patients in clinic whom I initially met in the Unity Providence Hospital,” said Dr. Halsey. “Continuity of care is very important to me, and it is really encouraging when I see improvements in the lives of my patients because of built ownership through a continuous relationship.”
According to Dr. Jimenez, Upper Cardozo CHC is Unity’s largest and busiest health center serving 23,000 with 100,000 patient visits per year. Latino and Ethiopian populations comprise the majority of patients that visit the center, and Dr. Jimenez works with an interprofessional team of dedicated individuals who care for the total patient. “When I have a follow-up with a patient and see that they’ve made improvements in their life, and when I’m able to see that they learned from our interactions, it means so much to me and is exactly the reason that I became a physician.”
Dr. Halsey says that she is still thinking through her goals and opportunities. “I might stay in D.C., although if I do I will probably take a break from the CHC setting to gain experience in other patient-centered medical home models,” said Dr. Halsey. “Overall, I would like my practice to involve education, combining clinical work with preventive healthcare outreach projects, perhaps in schools, community centers, or in clinics. I am also interested in facilitating efforts to create a more environmentally-sustainable healthcare environment.
As for Dr. Jimenez, he plans to continue working and seeing patients in underserved communities and being involved in health policy dealing with quality disparities.
Beyond the campus walls features students who are part of our 12 Community Health Center campus partnerships throughout the country.