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Nov 04, 2013 12:04 PM EST

Baldwin University Creates New Pre-Med Program, Addresses Primary Care Shortage

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Baldwin Wallace University has unveiled a pre-med academic program in an effort to develop primary care doctors, Cleveland.com reported.

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The university's Primary Healthcare Advancement Program will blend coursework from their public health major with a medically-oriented science curriculum. The program will target students from medically underserved, rural and urban Ohio communities, with the idea that they're likely to return home to pursue their medical practice, according to a press release.

Dr. Joseph Yavornitzky, university professor and director of the program, said unlike the traditional pre-med track, this program will give students the undergraduate foundation they need to successfully pursue primary care medical training.

"No other institution has a program like this which educates students about the significance and importance of primary care medicine at the undergraduate level - before they're been indoctrinated otherwise," Dr. Joseph Yavornitzky, director of the program, said in a statement. "They traditional pre-med approach usually includes a list of basic science courses added to the student' major of choice."

According to Yavornitzky, Baldwin University's "selective pre-med pathway is linked to the first-year curriculum of primary care-focused medical school."

The new program was also created to address a nationwide shortage in the field.

Currently, 64 percent of Ohio's counties have a shortage of primary care doctors. Additionally, the American Academy of Family Physicians has predicted a shortfall of 40,000 family physicians across the United States by 2020, according to a press release.

"This new pre-med program, added to our Public Health major for undergrads, Accelerated Nursing second bachelor's program, and Physician Assistant graduate degree, will prepare BW students to meet growing needs in the primary healthcare field," Baldwin University President Robert C. Helmer said in a statement.

According to school officials, successful completion of the new program should prepare students to better compete for admission to primary care-focused medical schools.

The university is currently working to finalize agreements that will allow students in this new program to apply for early admission to medical school, based on their intent to practice primary care.

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