Dr. Jenna Sebranek

Dr. Jenna Sebranek, who grew up near Richland Center, meets with patient Mary Novy and her husband, Francis, at Richland Medical Center in Richland Center in 2016. Sebranek is among the first graduates of the Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, a program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health that aims to train doctors wanting to practice in rural areas.


The UW School of Medicine and Public Health is joining the Medical College of Wisconsin and five other medical schools in a new effort to transform medical education, as health care focuses more on population groups as well as individual patients.

“In addition to teaching students biomedical knowledge and clinical skills, they need to have the skills of professionalism, a societal perspective and be able to address the science of heath care delivery and public health issues,” said Dr. Elizabeth Petty, senior associate dean of academic affairs at the UW medical school.

The newly formed National Transformation Network, announced Thursday, is part of the Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education, based at the Medical College in Milwaukee.

The network also includes: the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota; University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine; University of Texas-Austin Dell Medical School; and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

The UW medical school has made changes in recent years to focus more on public health, which includes social determinants of health, such as poverty, nutrition and employment.

In 2005, the school added “public health” to its name, integrating community approaches to health with clinical and research efforts.

The Wisconsin Academy for Rural Medicine, or WARM, started in 2007, bringing in students from rural areas or with an interest in rural practice and training them in rural settings, with the hope that they’ll work in similar locales after medical school.

Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health, or TRIUMPH, based in Milwaukee, began the next year.

Other programs have worked on increasing diversity among students and serving diverse populations of patients, including the Native American Center for Health Professions, created in 2012.

Despite those efforts, the school could do better at preparing doctors for today’s health care challenges, Petty said. “We need to improve health outcomes and better address health disparities and inequities,” she said.

The network will promote a “Triple Aim for Medical Education: character, competence and caring.” The idea springs from a well-known Triple Aim for Health Care, which focuses on enhancing the patient experience, improving the health of populations and reducing the cost of care.

Through the network, UW could exchange curriculum with other schools or set up faculty workshops or student exchanges with them, Petty said.

The collaboration will also teach medical students to work alongside nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals, as doctors are increasingly doing, she said.


David Wahlberg is the health and medicine reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.