Family and Community Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine
The mission of the Department of Family and Community Medicine is to create strong relationships with our patients, focusing on both acute issues as well as long-term general health, train the next generation of excellent primary-care physicians, conduct impactful primary care research and educational outreach, and meet the needs of the communities we serve.
Welcome to the Department of Family and Community Medicine – a specialty that is the backbone of the US health system – where we provide comprehensive health care to the whole family, across the lifespan.
As family medicine providers, we have the privilege of establishing lifelong, trusting relationships with our patients, their families and communities. Through outpatient and inpatient services, we care for patients at numerous Penn State Health community practice sites and hospitals.
Our distinguished faculty teaches our college's medical students in family medicine, where we’re transforming medical education through accelerated training, allowing medical students to earn a medical degree in three years. We offer innovative longitudinal integrated clerkships; we are proud to be the home of an award-winning, student-run Family Medicine Interest Group.
Three vibrant residency programs offer a supportive academic environment for residents to thrive personally and professionally on their journey to becoming the next generation of full-spectrum family physicians prepared to lead, teach and thrive in a changing health care environment while serving the community.
Our research areas are diverse, addressing the real-life issues of our patients and community to identify the best prevention and treatment strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.
I’m proud of our department and our organization’s commitment to a respectful and inclusive work environment that fosters a culture of wellness and embraces diversity.
As you explore our website, you’ll learn more about what makes our dynamic department so unique.
Mack Thomas Ruffin IV, MD, MPH
Family and Community Medicine Department Chair
Penn State College of Medicine
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Education in Family and Community Medicine
Recognizing the importance of Family Medicine, in 1967, Penn State College of Medicine established the nation's first Department of Family and Community Medicine in an academic health center.
We are distinguished not only by our long history, but also by the number and talent of the faculty - no family medicine department in the nation has a larger collaborating group of faculty members, and residents work directly alongside these esteemed physicians. Trainees have the opportunity to pursue family and community medicine residency through programs in three locations - Hershey, Pa., Reading, Pa. or State College, Pa.
The department also offers two primary care sports medicine fellowship programs (in Hershey and State College) that are part of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and a four-week clerkship for medical students (in both Hershey and State College) that is largely an ambulatory care educational experience in family medicine.
Finally, Penn State College of Medicine is pleased to host an exciting accelerated option, the Family Medicine Accelerated Program at Penn State (FM-APPS). This is a 3+3 program where students complete medical school in three years, followed by a three-year family medicine residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Research in Family and Community Medicine
Research within the Department of Family and Community Medicine reflects both the diversity of the patient population and the spectrum of primary care clinical researcher interests. Research areas include health disparities and underserved populations, medical education, patient self-support, primary care quality improvement, cancer survivorship, integrative medicine, caregiver support and global health research in partnership with the Global Health Center.
Research project managers within the department support more than 24 faculty clinician-researchers in identifying and pursuing funding opportunities and assisting with project coordination and dissemination of findings. The department is also home to the Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program Office, whose mission is to help communities meet their primary health care needs by creating a statewide infrastructure bridging community and academic resources.
The Department of Family and Community Medicine has a strong history of collaboration with other departments including Medicine, Pediatrics, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and Public Health Sciences. New collaborations with new partners are welcomed.
Clinical Care in Family and Community Medicine
The family and community medicine team provides primary care to people of all ages, from newborns to geriatric patients. The department provides comprehensive care, dealing with both acute and chronic illnesses, often in the same office visit. Team members also provide preventive medical care, for example screening laboratory tests and immunization updates.
Family and community medicine providers use a team approach to care for people of all ages. The department provides whole-person care to support the needs of the individual patient, whether healthy, sick or living with a chronic condition. Penn State Health offers care at several locations. Providers include board-certified family physicians.
Family medicine is first and foremost a primary care discipline. The practice of family medicine has several distinguishing characteristics:
- The family physician provides continuity of care across time and across family generations.
- The family physician provides comprehensive care, dealing with both acute and chronic illnesses, often in the same office visit.
- The family physician provides preventative medical care, for example screening laboratory tests and immunization updates.
- The family physician is a patient advocate, serving to provide the patient with appropriate care and medical services. An important part of this role is helping to interpret the almost overwhelming amount of information available to patients and helping them make intelligent choices for their own care and their family's health.
- For Medical Students
- Continuing Education: Credits are offered for various programs such as Evidence-Based Medicine for the Primary Care Physician and more. See Continuing Education opportunities
- Residencies (ACGME-approved)
- Fellowships (ACGME-approved)
- Research training program