KU School of Medicine-Wichita

Embark 2017

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19 Schmidt said that the program was instrumental in the formation of the first department of family medicine at a Paraguayan university, but much work remains to be done. "Unfortunately, many students still complete their training without ever coming in contact with family medicine," he said. "When I came to Paraguay as a family physician in 1981, I was the only family medicine specialist in the country and no one knew what it was," Schmidt said. "Now we have over 800 Family Health Units in Public Health and a number of institutions requesting family docs. At least 80 percent of the country does not have family physicians. There needs to be more emphasis in medical schools, and better recognition of the specialty." An international link is made The partnership is an outgrowth of older and broader efforts — the Partners of the Americas program launched by President John F. Kennedy and the Kansas/Paraguay Partnership, which has conducted faculty and student exchanges since 1968. Spanish-speaking Paraguay, with an estimated 7 million people, lies between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Although increasingly industrialized, it remains among South America's poorest countries. Medical school there is similar to the way it is here, but after graduation is drastically different. If a matriculated medical student cannot get a residency spot, which are in short supply, he or she can practice medicine anyway. This is different than the U.S., where a minimum of three years of postgraduate residency is typically required before an M.D. can practice without supervision. Dr. Wesley Schmidt, a U.S.-born, Paraguay-raised family doctor who did his family medicine residency in the United States, developed the first family medicine program in the country and has been involved in the partnership since it began. "We have been able to gradually increase the number of doctors training in family medicine, and the quality of this training has been improved by our participation in this exchange program," Schmidt said. Family medicine didn't gain immediate acceptance as a specialty in the United States. The same is true in Paraguay, but a decades-long partnership between KU School of Medicine-Wichita and the South American country is changing views and adding more family doctors in the southern hemisphere. Since the Paraguay-Kansas Family Medicine Faculty Exchange Program began in the late 1990s, expanding on work begun in the 1980s, the number of residency programs has grown from one to seven. Where there were once 15 residency spots, there are now 120. The partnership involves Wichita faculty sharing their expertise during visits to Paraguay. They also mentor family doctors and faculty from Paraguay who come to Wichita to learn about U.S. health care and our medical training system. The Department of Family and Community Medicine on the Wichita campus has assisted Paraguay in medical student education and residency program development. Kansas family docs shape medicine in

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