The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a critical need for both improved access to primary health care services and community-wide partnerships to support public health efforts. The Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program is designed to train primary care residents in community-based settings and to retain medical talent in those areas of the country where they are most needed. If adequately funded, it is well poised to help support these needs now and in the future. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, THC residents have adapted to their circumstances, and exceeded what is normally asked of them in their training, by immersing themselves in telehealth, staffing various COVID-19 needs in their communities, and working with state and local public health efforts to implement testing and screening programs in record time. THCs and their residents will continue to be critically important on the front lines of COVID-19 and in dealing with its lasting impacts. The capacity of THC programs for rapid innovation and adaptability could translate into positive changes for the very foundations of primary care and residency training, but permanent and stable funding is essential.

The blog, “An Unexpected Education: Teaching Health Center Training in a Global Pandemic” is authored by Milken Institute SPH colleagues Marsha Regenstein, Ted Epperly, Cristine Serrano, Jennifer Trott, and Alexis Acosta and is available on the Health Policy and Management Matters website.