Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Department of Family & Community Medicine

Message from Christine Arenson, MD, Alumni Professor and Chair

Dr. Christine Arenson

Welcome to the Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) academic website. We were founded with a mission to provide the best possible care to our patients and to train an outstanding new generation of family physicians.  Pursuing clinical excellence remains foundational to all of our work. In 2009 we reached a milestone on this journey, achieving Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home certification, among the first academic practices in the country. We have leveraged every opportunity to redesign the delivery of primary care and to build quality into our daily work, with impressive results. We are proud of our ability to bring this level of quality and caring to many of the most disadvantaged residents of Philadelphia, including refugees seeking asylum in our country, homeless and formerly homeless individuals, youth seeking emergency shelter, the elderly, and those nearing the end of life.

Our Department’s accomplishments are truly extraordinary – let me give just a few highlights. Today, the DFCM is:

  • 49 faculty (including 3 primary care research fellows)
  • 30 family medicine residents
  • 4 geriatric fellows
  • 2 sports medicine fellows
  • 7 nurse practitioners
  • 131 staff
  • 35,000 patients making over 80,000 visits annually
  • Over 1,000 students annually, from Jefferson Medical College, the Jefferson Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Population Health and beyond
  • 14 clinical sites all over Philadelphia, including outpatient practices, nursing homes, community partnerships, geriatric oncology, palliative care, and inpatient services

Our educational programs continue to grow and diversify, while remaining the heart of our Department. We have graduated 312 family physicians since 1974. Nearly 50% of graduates from the past ten years are choosing to work in medically underserved areas; a similar number chose academic careers. Many leaders in family medicine across the nation have roots in our department. In recent years, we have made a major commitment to increasing the diversity of our residents, in order to better serve their future patients. Twenty percent of our current residents are from groups underrepresented in medicine; fully 40% of our interns are from URM backgrounds.

We are more active than ever in pre-doctoral medical education and interprofessional education. Our 6-week required 3rd year clerkship continues to be the #1 rated clerkship, every year since 1974. Our Physician Shortage Area Program (PSAP) will have 400 graduates as of May 2016, and half of them remain in long-term rural practice, 2/3 as family physicians. In recent years, we have built on the success of the PSAP program, including rural recruits from Delaware and creating the Urban Underserved Program to complement our rural primary care program. Most recently, we are working to develop a track for Physician Assistant students.

Our community medicine programs continue to grow and deepen. The Jefferson Center for Refugee Health is a national leader in creating a patient-centered medical home model for refugees, and is partnering with the CDC and others to document the impact of their work. And our 20+ year partnership with ProjectHOME has entered a new era. In November 2013, the Wellness Center was officially designated an FQHC, and in 2015 the new Stephen Klein Wellness Center opened its doors and provides dramatically expanded primary care, health, and wellness services to homeless and formerly homeless individuals in north Philadelphia. We are so proud to be part of these and many more incredible opportunities to serve our community and better prepare our students and residents.

Founded in 1974, the Department of Family & Community Medicine celebrates 42 years of caring for patients, educating family doctors and other health professionals, developing new knowledge to improve health, and partnering with communities. But we are not resting on our laurels!  We have re-affirmed our mission and clearly articulated our ultimate goal: We will transform healthcare to eliminate disparities and optimize health for patients, families, and communities. We have adopted a new strategic plan to launch us into the future and beyond.

It is truly humbling to lead this remarkable organization, and to follow in the footsteps of Paul Brucker, Ed McGehee, John Randall, and Rich Wender.  It is even more humbling to witness the amazing work each and every member of the department accomplishes every day, and to know of the incredible contributions our alumni make around the country. But I know, without question, that our very best is yet to come.  Thank you for joining me in supporting us on this journey.



Christine Arenson, MD