Christian Bruni and Matthew Nelson have two things in common.
Both have a keen interest in providing quality, humanistic, patient-centered primary care, and both are proud alumni of Cooper Medical School, Rowan University (CMSRU).
In 2019, Drs. Bruni and Nelson earned their medical degrees (MD) as members of the inaugural cohort of CMSRU’s accelerated three-year medical education program, called the “PC3 track.” For students with a strong interest in pursuing a career in internal medicine or primary care paediatrics, CMSRU offers the PC3 track as an option to earn a medical degree at an accelerated pace, thereby bypassing the fourth year of the medical track” traditional”. Instead, PC3 graduates have a direct path to training at Cooper University Health Care, in primary care-specific residency streams.
Drs. Both Bruni and Nelson applied to the program because they had an initial interest in primary care.
“Throughout my undergraduate career, I have focused on studying a variety of cognitive science topics, including psychology, philosophy, and computer science, as well as the social determinants of health,” said Dr Nelson. “With this background, the concept of really getting to know patients while working with them over a period of time really appealed to me and drew me to primary care.”
“As primary care physicians, we have the ability to inspire patients to adopt healthy habits,” Dr. Bruni said. “Specifically, in pediatrics, I see many patients starting at a young age, and I find it exciting to have the opportunity to support them as they grow in developing healthy lifestyles.”
A choice to focus on internal medicine or pediatrics
Students in the PC3 stream choose to focus on internal medicine or pediatrics in their primary care career. The track then supports each student’s area of interest with additional outpatient clinical experiences in their chosen field, preparing them to enter their residency programs where they will continue to train in that specific area. Dr. Bruni was the first CMSRU student to complete the course with an emphasis on pediatrics, while Dr. Nelson was the first to complete the course with an emphasis on internal medicine.
During the first and second year, students are introduced to basic clinical skills and gain early exposure to primary care settings. The program also offers courses specifically designed to enhance students’ clinical skills as well as understanding of the complex social and public health landscape faced by primary care physicians. For example, a course titled “Transforming Health Care in an Urban Environment” explores the work of community organizations in Camden, as well as Cooper University Health Care, in addressing barriers to health care in the region.
“Primary care is an area of medicine that is so valuable,” said Jenny Melli, MD, assistant professor of medicine at CMSRU, internal medicine and primary care physician, as well as director of the residency program’s primary care program. in internal medicine. in health care from Cooper University. “The PC3 program exemplifies CMSRU’s commitment to preparing primary care physicians to serve medically underserved communities. The program demonstrates the true value of primary care services in an urban community.
A strong support system
The PC3 track also offers unique opportunities to connect with peers, professors and mentors. Reflecting on their time throughout the program, Drs. Bruni and Nelson remember feeling supported by the community around them.
“I felt very supported during my time in the PC3 program,” said Dr. Bruni. “I felt like there was always someone to turn to if I needed help in any way. I knew there were people who cared for me. .
“I felt safe in the program,” Dr. Nelson said. “Knowing that I would stay in the area for my residency made a big difference.”
In addition to mentorship, students gain early exposure to their specific area of interest, which fosters a dynamic learning environment from the early years as a medical student through time as a resident physician.
To look forward
After graduating from medical school in 2019, Dr. Bruni entered the Pediatrics Residency Program at Cooper University Health Care, while Dr. Nelson entered the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Cooper University Health Care. With their residency training now behind them, Dr. Bruni is excited to remain at Cooper, where he will transition to serve as 4e Head of Clinic of the Year then General Practitioner. Dr. Nelson started a geriatrics fellowship at the University of Rochester, one of the most established geriatrics fellowship programs in the country.
“The PC3 program was funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and supports the natural effort to train future primary care providers with a commitment to patient advocacy, civic responsibility and diversity,” explained Annette C. Reboli, MD, Dean of CMSRU. “We look forward to supporting the growth and development of this program for years to come.”
In addition to Drs. Bruni and Nelson, a total of nine physicians have successfully completed the program in the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics streams, and they continue to thrive in residency training at Cooper University Health Care. Year after year, the track continues to attract considerable interest among applicants to the CMSRU.
Looking to the future, there are plans to expand the program to include a focus on family medicine, in addition to existing areas of interest in internal medicine and pediatrics. HRSA grant support has ended and the program is now fully integrated into CMSRU’s Office of Medical Education.
“We are very proud of Dr. Christian Bruni and Dr. Matthew Nelson and were fortunate to have them as the first class in the PC3 stream,” said Camille Henry, MD, PC3 Program Director, Internal Medicine-Pediatrics. primary care physician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at CMSRU. “We know they will continue to have a positive impact on so many children, adults and families in their careers in primary care.”
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