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Background and Philosophy

The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health promotes the broad clinical perspective of the family physician not only focused on individual patient care but with a broader public health imperative: advancing the fitness of populations and communities.  Specifically, addressing the needs of the Commonwealth's underserved citizens.

As one of the University’s founding departments, the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health intentionally distinguishes—but links—medicine and community health.  This is predicated on the knowledge that simply producing more physicians and clinics as well as diagnostic and treatment advances will not be sufficient to alleviate the major health problems in our communities.  The greatest gains in health status will come from what people are able to do or not do for themselves, individually as well as collectively.  Community health is predicated upon concepts of collective activity and the societal determinants of health.

The Department provides opportunities for students and faculty to partner with communities to assess and intervene on the broad determinants of health.  Our intent is to ensure that, as we treat the symptoms of illness, we treat the causative factors as well.  In the words of Dr. Rudolph Virchow, a renown 19th century German physician who is viewed as the principal architect of the foundations of scientific medicine, “Medical education does not exist to provide students [and faculty] with a way of making a living, but to ensure the health of the community.” 

To advance the Community Health agenda, the Department has continued it history of developing training programs and a wide array of partnerships based in the community as well as within the four walls of UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial Health Care. The department serves as the focus of activities in population-based medicine and health as well as the public health system, prevention, and the role of physicians in improving the public’s health