Development and support of community-based, interdisciplinary ambulatory medical education has achieved high priority due to on-site capacity and the unique educational experiences community sites contribute to the educational program. The authors describe the collaborative model their school developed and implemented in 2000 to integrate institution- and community-based interdisciplinary education through a centralized office, the strengths and challenges faced in applying it, the educational outcomes that are being tracked to evaluate its effectiveness, and estimates of funds needed to ensure its success. Core funding of $180,000 is available annually for a centralized office, the keystone of the model described here. With this funding, the office has (1) addressed recruitment, retention, and quality of educators for UME; (2) promoted innovation in education, evaluation, and research; (3) supported development of a comprehensive curriculum for medical school education; and (4) monitored the effectiveness of community-based education programs by tracking product yield and cost estimates needed to generate these programs. The model's Teaching and Learning Database contains information about more than 1,500 educational placements at 165 ambulatory teaching sites (80% in northern New England) involving 320 active preceptors. The centralized office facilitated 36 site visits, 22% of which were interdisciplinary, involving 122 preceptors. A total of 98 follow-up requests by community-based preceptors were fulfilled in 2000. The current submission- to-funding ratio for educational grants is 56%. Costs per educational activity have ranged from $811.50 to $1,938, with costs per preceptor ranging from $101.40 to $217.82. Cost per product (grants, manuscripts, presentations) in research and academic scholarship activities was $2,492. The model allows the medical school to balance institutional and departmental support for its educational programs, and to better position itself for the ongoing changes in the health care system.
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