History of Family Medicine
at Duke

Duke University Medical Center: (1972-present)

The Duke Family Medicine Residency began in 1972 as a joint effort between Duke University Medical Center and Durham Regional Hospital. The program initially trained 13 residents per year and sent graduates all over the US with almost 50% remaining in North Carolina.

In 1991, the program was consolidated at Duke University Hospital with selected rotations at the community hospital, Durham VA Hospital and Wake Medical Center in Raleigh. The compliment of residents began to shrink as national interest in Family Medicine began to decline.

In May 2006, the program announced that it would suspend accepting new residents. The reasons behind the decision included issues with the applicant pool, resident attrition, and frustration of the faculty with training residents in a model of Family Medicine they themselves no longer practiced. The announcement led to considerable national reaction.

In the fall of 2006, Dr. Lloyd Michener, Chairman of the Duke Department of Community and Family Medicine, commissioned a team to evaluate the RRC requirements for Family Medicine Residency training, the needs of the Durham community, the scope of practice of family physicians, and the resources available at Duke to produce an innovative Family Medicine educational program. The team, with input from residents, alumni, and an expert advisory panel convened by Duke's chancellor, created a new design for the Duke Family Medicine Residency program. That program is designed to meet the needs of Durham and similar communities, and to prepare physicians for leadership roles promoting health in their communities.

The key aspects of the re-designed residency program include:

  • Ambulatory care as the core focus, with reduced in-hospital training
  • Prevention, early intervention, and systematic chronic disease management
  • Team training
  • Team-based care, in the office and with community partners
  • Nearly daily office hours in the second and third years
  • Community engagement and participation including weekly sessions in innovative community-based clinics and programs of Duke's Division of Community Health. These programs provide services in neighborhoods, schools, and low income housing to patients who would otherwise have difficulty accessing care
  • Community engaged health research
  • Quality measurement and improvement, with direct resident involvement in all levels of the process
  • Clinical Leadership Training

The entire Duke community is excited about this innovative residency. We know we are on the right track to train residents for the changing landscape of health care.

"I looked for a program that could help me develop into a leader for the future of family medicine. Duke's commitment to innovations in the profession and focus on population health tied in perfectly with their supportive faculty and academic resources. They have encouraged me to grow into the kind of family doctor that I have always dreamed to be - an advocate for my patients, a leader in my community, and an active voice for the profession. I couldn't be happier with my choice"

Aaron George, DO

"Duke Family Medicine provides an exciting and stimulating learning environment for family physicians who envision a new paradigm for health care delivery. In addition to training skilled clinicians, a supportive faculty and administration allows residents to explore the meanings of community-oriented primary care and to become part of a movement seeking to address health disparities and barriers to quality care.

Kavita Patel, MD