The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has created a first-of-a-kind program to produce primary-care physicians who will address medical and social issues that afflict the  underserved of Baltimore City, according to a press release issued by the school.

The new program, called the Osler Urban Health Residency Track (UHRT), will be supported by a $3.84 million federal grant awarded to the school, which is the only medical institution in Maryland to receive funding. The million dollar grant will cover the costs of the residents’ salaries, malpractice and health insurance, and expenditures for recruitment and residency-related activities.

“This grant will help us in our attempts to address the growing medical needs in underserved communities by providing resident physicians with specialized training in managing the myriad health problems – from high blood pressure and diabetes, to alcoholism, AIDS, and domestic violence,” noted Edward D. Miller, MD, dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Through the program, four residents will undergo three years of training, with a focus of  addressing the growing medical needs of underserved populations. The residents spend  about 80% of their first year learning the basics of clinical care. They also work several hours a week at a clinic in East Baltimore. As they move forward, residents will be able to plan  projects with the Health Department, participate in rotations at HIV outpatient clinics, and join the Baltimore police at domestic-violence conferences. In addition, residents will get a  chance to train in cross-cultural communications and study the health care systems of prisons from the inside. During each resident’s last two years, they will work as a  primary-care doctor in an urban practice and after three years of training residents will  receive full tuition support to earn a master’s degree in public health, business administration, or a similar advanced degree in an area of interest while practicing part-time as primary- care physicians.

“The track will focus on the social and medical issues that are underemphasized in  traditional training,” explained Rosalyn Steward, MD, associate director of the UHRT.  “Healthy living only comes about when all of those issues are dealt with in a coordinated and comprehensive fashion.”