Curricular Tracks

Community Medicine Track
A Track that Impacts the Community

The Community Medicine Track curriculum aims to help residents develop the skills to become a community-responsive physician. Experiences include opportunities for community health assessment, engagement and development of new and existing community partnerships, health improvement program planning and evaluation, and clinical skill development in areas of need for underserved populations. The track includes a community-based project, intended to meet residents’ scholarly project requirements, based on a topic of interest and done in collaboration with a community partner the resident has developed a relationship with. The track is designed to be flexible enough to meet residents’ individual learning goals. It allows for selection between relevant electives, resident identification and development of a project focus area, and supports opportunities for further enrichment such as additional training.

About the Track Director

Dr. Bernstein entered family medicine as a career to pursue improving the health of our community. Her prior experiences include founding a student-run free clinic for homeless families, providing street medicine outreach, treating patients in a community-based free clinic within a housing program, and providing primary care at Milwaukee’s Bread of Healing Clinic for the uninsured. She completed a research fellowship focused on community-engaged research and currently holds a joint appointment in MCW Department of Family and Community Medicine’s Division of Healthy Communities and Research, with a research focus on chronic disease in vulnerable populations. Dr. Bernstein enjoys teaching about Community Medicine not only to residents, but to medical students in the family medicine clerkship and in the Urban and Community Health Pathway at MCW.

The track has 4 primary components:
1. A one-month Community Medicine Exploration Elective
2. A longitudinal community-based project
3. Additional 1-3 electives in community medicine chosen to meet residents’ individual learning goals.
4. Participation in the FHC Community Engagement Committee
Additional experiences related to community medicine are available to augment these components. Examples include enrolling in or auditing public health courses, particularly Public Health Administration in the MCW master’s program in public health, identifying and meeting with a community advisor, participating in ongoing, existing community health-related projects through faculty and staff in our department, and to attend relevant conferences, meetings, or trainings.
Upon entering the track, residents will meet with the track advisor to discuss their interests and learning goals, including their possible post-residency practice plans. Residents have expressed interests including a topic area they wish to further explore (e.g. nutrition), a skill-set they wish to develop (e.g. non-profit management), and an interest in exploring post-residency career interests (e.g. health center practice). A written statement of interests and learning goals is expected, to allow development of a track experience to meet these goals.
Below are descriptions of the four primary components:
1. One month Community Medicine Exploration elective

  • This elective is typically done in the PGY2 year. Exceptions may be possible in individual cases.
  • Purpose:  The purpose of this rotation is to become exposed to a variety of settings in which programs, services, and care are delivered.  This will also afford an opportunity to meet potential community partners for the longitudinal project.  Residents are expected to seek the perspective of those they meet in community settings and work through observation and inquiry on identifying community needs and possible areas for collaboration.
  • Learning Objectives:

1) Gain awareness and understanding of multiple community-based organizations, settings, and approaches to delivering health and health-related programming.
2) Enhance clinical skills to address the needs of vulnerable populations
3) Become exposed to the legislative advocacy process for health professionals and organizations.
4) Use principles of community-academic partnership to begin considering and planning for PGY3 Community Medicine Project

  • Activities:  In addition to continuity clinic and call responsibilities, residents will attend a variety of community sites.
    • Opportunity to collaborate with pediatric residents on the Community Pediatrics rotation: WIC, Public Health Department, Head Start, Pediatric oral health, Advocacy Day with educational session and legislator meetings in Madison
    • Additional current community experiences: Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin (clinical care and needle exchange experience), Brady Street STD Clinic, CCDM, FQHC overview at Outreach Community Health Center
    • Possible areas for future community experiences: School Health Clinic, Parish Nursing, Employee Health, Dept of Aging Home Assessments, Street Outreach, Free Clinic Collaborative meeting, Bread of Healing free clinic, and others.
    • Opportunity for co-teaching one 3-hour Community Medicine session to Family Medicine Clerkship medical students with track advisor
  • Selected readings on community oriented primary care to be completed before or during your elective.

2.  Longitudinal Community-based Project

  • This project is conducted primarily in the PGY3 year, though residents are encouraged to begin developing partnerships and ideas in the PGY2 year or earlier.
  • Rationale: The skills involved in forming or joining a community partnership, identifying areas of community need, establishing mutual goals, collaborative planning, and executing a program for the purpose of community health improvement can only be gained through experience. Because of the relational nature of community engagement, this project must be undertaken over time; a four-week elective is not conducive to developing a true partnership. This experience is designed to afford residents the opportunity to become a partner to the community and to work through a focused health improvement project together.
  • It is recommended but not required that this project be utilized to meet residents’ scholarly project requirements.
  • Learning Objectives: By the end of this longitudinal experience, residents will be able to

1) Use a community strengths and needs assessment to identify a focused topic area that is timely, relevant, and likely to benefit a target population within our community (SBP-3).
2) Successfully partner and collaborate with other public health and community-based organizations (SBP-3).
3) Utilize sound research or program design to develop and implement a study or health improvement program
4) Use appropriate techniques to assess or analyze the results of their study or program

  • Strategies: Residents will be expected to submit a longitudinal project proposal by July of their PGY3 year. Based on the nature of the project, their proposal will include recommendations for the time needed (e.g. frequency, timing) for completion of the project and recommendations for how this time could be best “paid back” or “paid forward” during a scheduled one-month elective.

3. Community-Medicine Related Electives

  • These electives may be completed in the PGY2 or PGY3 year.
  • Purpose: To allow residents to individualize the track experience by identifying (or creating) electives to meet their learning objectives.
  • Current electives: Behavioral health elective or community health center electives would be suitable as relevant track electives.
  • Residents are strongly encouraged to consider taking at least one elective intended to strengthen clinical skills caring for underserved populations. Examples include the behavioral health or community health center electives, an oral health elective, HIV-focused infectious disease elective, etc.

4. Participation on the Community-Engagement Committee

  • Community Medicine Track residents are considered members of the Community-Engagement Committee
  • Participation will allow residents an opportunity to collaborate with an inter-disciplinary clinic team conducting community engagement. They will help in identifying annual areas of focus. Residents on the committee are resident-leaders for community engagement and will communicate information and opportunities based on the committee’s work to the other residents. 

Requirements for successful completion of the Community Medicine Track:
1. Completion of the Community Medicine Exploration Elective.
2.  Successful completion of a community-related project, including development or engagement in a partnership with a community (outside of the clinic or hospital) organization or group.
3. Completion of at least 1 additional elective related to community medicine, as determined by the resident and track advisor to meet individual learning goals.
4. Active participation in the FHC Community Engagement Committee, defined as attendance of at least 50% of committee meetings and substantial participation in the committee’s annual project during the PGY2 and PGY3 years.

For more information contact:

Rebecca Bernstein, M.D.
Columbia St. Mary’s Family Medicine
1121 E. North Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53212
(414) 267-6502 Office
Toll free: (866) 540-4760
(414) 267-3892 Fax