February 7, 2017

Alum Bruce Kresge, M.D., seeks to spark careers in Family Medicine with innovative gift

Bruce Kresge, M.D., meets with members of the Family Medicine Interest Group

The term "doctor" often elicits the image of the family medicine physician.

Bruce A. Kresge, M.D. '56, now retired, knows the reason for that image. "Family physicians have a special relationship with their patients. It's the doctor they go to for help. Specialist doctors might see patients once or twice, but then sends them back to their family doctor. We need specialists, but the close relationship between primary care physicians and their patients is very special, very important, and we definitely need more of them."

Projections by the Association of American Medical Colleges indicate that by 2020 the nation will need 91,500 new doctors. In Michigan, that translates to shortages of between 8,000 and 12,000 physicians, 4,000 of which will be primary care physicians. To ensure ongoing access to quality and affordable health care, a critical supply of family medicine physicians must be introduced. Dr. Kresge is taking an innovative philanthropic approach to encourage more students to pursue family medicine as a career to help meet that need.

Supporting Opportunities to Encounter Family Medicine

"Typically, a medical student has some family member in a specialty who encourages and inspires them to go into medicine and into a particular specialty," Dr, Kresge said. "I wanted to support something that gets more medical students to see family practice as a fulfilling career choice."

He established the Family Medicine Endowed Direction Fund for Medical Students to support programs and initiatives in the Wayne State University Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences that attempt to pique and retain student interest in the discipline. The fund will support activities such as the award-winning Family Medicine Interest Group, the Rural Medicine Interest Group, and opportunities for students to attend national and state family medicine conferences.

"I came to the conclusion that it was important to support seminars and other programming that afford students opportunities to see different family physicians, how they work, what they do and what they are able to do," Dr. Kresge said. "I'm very impressed with the Family Medicine Interest Group, and I believe it to be a wonderful way of getting students interested and keeping them interested."

Traditionally focused on pre-clinical students in Years 1 and 2, the FMIG offers information that is generally outside of the prescribed curriculum, and provides an informal introduction to family medicine in an educational setting. In recent years, an additional FMIG with a focus on Year 3 students has been added to further the momentum developed during the required Year 3 clerkship.

During the past three years, the School of Medicine has seen an increase in the number of students pursuing and matching into family medicine residency positions. This encouraging statistic points to the success of the various initiatives to engage students in family medicine. Dr. Kresge's gift will ensure that the programs continue to inspire and develop even more family medicine physicians.

Addressing Health Disparities

Enthusiasm for the FMIG, his interactions with students and his own experiences at the School of Medicine fuel Dr. Kresge's philanthropic partnership with the school. "Physicians trained at Wayne State get a lot of guided patient interaction early on. This approach instills exceptional inter-personal skills, an increasingly vital component of health care, especially for family physicians. At Wayne, you're not tenth in line looking over nine peoples' shoulders to interact with a patient. It was the advantage during my time as a student, and it looks to be the same now."

Dr. Kresge's vision for the Family Medicine Endowed Direction Fund for Medical Students is that it will inspire students to become highly-qualified and motivated primary care physicians who will address health disparities in Detroit and throughout the region. "The School of Medicine is a huge anchor for medical care in the area and the state. A lot of the students who graduate from the school stay in the area to practice, and we need them here in our community," he said. "Investing in these programs is investing in the health care of Detroit."

"We are so grateful for and honored by Dr. Kresge's incredible gift to support these important programs," said Tsveti Markova, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences. "His generosity will allow the department to build on the success of these initiatives that demonstrate the value that family medicine brings, not only to individual patients, but to public health overall."

Dr. Kresge hopes that others will recognize the difference these programs make and join him in supporting the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences by contributing to the fund. To make a gift to the fund, contact Patty Paquin at ppaquin@med.wayne.edu or 313-577-0026.

To learn more about the Family Medicine Interest Group and the other programs offered by the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences, visit familymedicine.med.wayne.edu/.

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