AFMC and Partners Awarded Federal Grant to Train Primary Care Physicians

AFMC has received a grant award totaling $1,902,095 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration. The five-year project, entitled Primary Care Training and Enhancement: Training Primary Care Champions, will train at least 20 healthcare professionals in leadership, team-based healthcare, practice transformation to value-based care, and expanded use of trauma-informed care.

AFMC will work with the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) in Fort Smith and ARcare, a federally qualified health center. The three partners will work to strengthen the primary-care workforce and healthcare in medically underserved communities (MUCs) in rural Arkansas. Many of ARcare’s clinics are in these areas of limited healthcare access.

AFMC, a nonprofit quality-improvement education organization, will plan, coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the project’s activities. “We are excited to launch this collaboration with ARCOM and ARcare clinics,” said AFMC President and CEO Ray Hanley. “Training doctors to be more effective in treating the trauma of adverse childhood experiences and developing community-based healthcare teams can make a difference in the health of rural Arkansans over the long term.”

ARCOM will establish a fellowship program to train five fellows each year the grant is in effect. They must be practicing primary-care physicians – medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) – or physician assistants (PAs). ARCOM will develop an intensive training program to enhance leadership skills, improve understanding of how social factors affect health, disseminate strategies to implement trauma-informed care, teach methods to build team-based care, and improve quality. The training will also identify best practices for trauma-informed care for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), opioid abuse, mental healthcare, and childhood obesity.

Each fellow will continue working at his or her local practice while implementing a nine-month healthcare practice transformation project. The projects will match the needs of their primary care practice, including the social determinants of health. Healthcare transformation has the triple aim of improving patient outcomes, controlling costs, and improving patients’ satisfaction with their care. Social determinants are the circumstances in which people live, work, age, and gain access to healthcare. They include factors such as poverty, education, and access to care, which are shaped by economic and political forces and social policies.

The fellows will establish multidisciplinary teams within their communities that include the medical, educational, faith, and social services communities. Though these teams, the fellows will teach practical strategies to implement trauma-informed care. It is especially important to expand trauma-informed care, according to Daphne Gaulden, AFMC’s program director for the overall project. “Arkansas has the highest percentage of children who have experienced ACEs and who continue to live with both the physical and emotional effects of that trauma,” Gaulden said.

ARcare provides safety-net health services at 42 primary-care clinic sites, many in medically underserved and rural areas throughout Arkansas. ARcare clinics will provide access to MDs, Dos, and PAs who will be trained on trauma-informed care, healthcare transformation, team-based care, and improved sensitivity to social determinants of health.