Support Primary Care at Harvard Medical School

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    Dean Jeffrey Flier
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We the undersigned were deeply concerned to learn about the loss of funding for the Harvard Medical School Primary Care Division. Such a budget cut seems at odds with both increased national recognition of the crisis in primary care and encouraging signs of late that Harvard acknowledges its responsibility to help address this crisis.

The loan forgiveness program Harvard recently created is an important step to enable students to choose careers in primary care and stem the flight to higher paying specialties. But loan forgiveness can only be one component of a multi-pronged strategy to boost student interest in primary care. If Harvard Medical School is truly committed to promoting primary care, it must do so throughout the four years of medical education.

The Primary Care Division historically coordinated such outreach activities, including a Primary Care Mentorship Program and a speaker series known as Primary Care Week. It is unclear to us how these efforts will be maintained and extended without funding or a Divisional home.

As members of the Harvard Medical School community, we request that the administration renew its commitment to primary care and present a detailed action plan for expanding institutional support despite this budget cut.

In doing so we believe Harvard should reaffirm the following guiding principles:

Leadership in primary care research and education is central to Harvards mission as the nations premier academic medical institution.
Institutional support for collaboration is critical to leveraging the primary care-related research and education activities across Harvard-affiliated institutions.
Harvard should support initiatives to train future leaders and innovators in primary care.
Harvard must continue to expand loan forgiveness initiatives that encourage students to pursue primary care specialties.
Harvard must actively support national efforts that make primary care central to a reformed health care system.
The administration should solicit and implement proposals from the HMS community that support the above goals.

As a leader in medicine, you have an opportunity to help solve this crisis in primary care and we look forward to working with you on this important task.