Resident physicians are making an impact in medicine inside and outside the clinical realm. That much is clear when reviewing the outstanding caliber of entrants in the 2021 AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Health Systems Science Student, Resident and Fellow Impact Challenge.

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These residents displayed skills in key domains of health systems science, which made a difference in the lives of patients, physicians and their communities during a historic period for health care. To learn more, read Medical students, residents and fellows making an impact: Submissions to the 2021 AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Health Systems Science Student, Resident and Fellow Impact Challenge (PDF).

A project at HonorHealth Medical Center in Arizona aimed to measure the efficacy of telehealth use among seniors and historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups during the pandemic. The project, which won third prize in the Impact Challenge, used the health system’s database to tally the number of visits in the primary care settings before and after the implementation of telemedicine. Residents also sent out surveys to patients and physicians to assess their views on telemedicine. Patients who identified as Hispanic or Latino showed a 40.5% increase in the total number of visits after telemedicine implementation, while that figure rose 22% for Black patients.

“This project is very close to my heart. I have learned that everyone can have full access to health care if they are provided the right opportunities and medium,” wrote AMA member and internal medicine resident Dania Shah, MD, who led the team. “I am extremely humbled to be a part of this wonderful project. As physicians, we should be open to innovative methods in improving our health care system and adapt in the face of new as well as existing challenges.”

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Benjamin Li, MD, a radiation oncology resident at the University of California, San Francisco, led the team that created Rayos Contra Cancer to address major gaps in cancer care in a collaborative fashion.

The group created, administered and measured nine longitudinal curriculum programs at 77 clinics in economically and socially marginalized settings with the volunteer support of expert professional educators, student volunteers and the use of cloud-based technology.

“I have experienced how radiation oncology, an often-isolated department, can begin to leverage full campus support by engaging the graduate student body focusing on health care and secondary ties in society,” Dr. Li wrote of the project, which earned an honorable mention from Impact Challenge judges. “A powerful idea with a strong mission can attract support outside our traditional boundaries.”

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Chavi Chaudhary, MD, a general psychiatry resident at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, led a program based on screening for food insecurity, which affects one in seven Americans and has a disproportionate impact on seniors. That project was also highlighted in the recently published text.

The program consisted of a validated, short screening for food insecurity among qualified patients that could be used as a potential tool to pair with social services.

“We have a great potential for addressing the social and medical dilemmas we will confront and address the prevalent health disparities in our community,” Dr. Chaudhary said. “We must take charge and commit to contributing and championing newly expanded roles as clinicians and leaders, educators, innovators and advocates for the application of a health-systems approach to tackling the social determinants of our local communities for improved health care delivery as well as better quality outcomes and processes.”

The AMA Reimagining Residency initiative is transforming residency training to best address the workplace needs of our current and future health care system. It supports bold and innovative projects that provide a meaningful and safe transition from undergraduate medical education to graduate medical education, establish new curricular content and experiences to enhance readiness for practice and promote well-being in training. 

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