The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Duke University School of Medicine is dedicated to improving the health of people in their communities. The department supports this mission by working with communities to:
- improve the understanding of health and illness in the family, workplace, and community;
- develop and evaluate collaborative interventions that improve health and prevent disease; and
- implement educational programs for a wide variety of medical professionals.
Established in 1966 as the Department of Community Health Sciences, the department took an early leadership role in developing strategies to improve the health of people in their communities. Today, the department is a diverse collection of clinical, educational, and research programs that seek ways to improve population health and health care delivery.
The department provides a wide range of primary care, preventive, and care-management services. Our Duke Family Medicine Center offers comprehensive, coordinated care to patients of all ages, including prenatal care and a wide variety of procedural services. Our department also operates neighborhood micro clinics, home-based primary care for the frail and elderly, and school-based clinics and wellness centers, as well as occupational health and wellness programs for Duke employees and employees of contracted companies in the region. In addition, we aim to offer culturally sensitive care for populations that may face barriers to care. A recent example is our clinical initiative designed to address the needs of the local LGBTQ+ population. The department also works in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs at Duke University to provide clinical oversight of the care provided to Duke's student population at Duke Student Health.
The department develops and delivers innovative education programs for a wide range of medical professionals and health sciences learners. Programs include the No. 1-ranked Duke Physician Assistant Program, residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine, a sports medicine fellowship, plus family medicine clinical rotations and community health electives for medical students. We also offer a community engagement practicum course for Master of Biomedical Sciences students, a Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Leadership, and the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program. The department is also a national leader in incorporating Interprofessional Education (IPE) for all learners, structuring clinical and didactic experiences for Duke physician assistant, medical, and nursing students and residents to practice delivering quality, effective care in interprofessional teams.
Our investigators are engaged in a wide range of interdisciplinary research efforts to advance understanding and develop effective interventions and new models of care to promote population health and reduce disparities in health outcomes. Study areas include: methods of improving patient understanding of risk of illness and barriers to receiving care; evaluation of community health programs; obesity prevention and management throughout the lifespan; high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease prevention; studies of patterns of illness and use of health services; workplace exposures and illness; roles and outcomes of key members of the health workforce; provider-patient communication; and team approaches to patient care. Additionally, several department behavioral scientists and epidemiologists conduct population-based and behavioral health research through the Duke Cancer Institute.