I’m pleased today to welcome Elizabeth “Liz” Jacobs, MD, MAPP, FACP, to the Dell Medical School.
Liz comes to Dell Med from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, where she was a professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Population Health Sciences. In Austin, she will be Chief of Primary Care and Value-based Health, with a joint appointment to our departments of Internal Medicine and Population Health. She will also serve as the Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Internal Medicine. Her areas of focus will include advancing the delivery of high-quality primary care in Central Texas; ensuring medical students have excellent educational experiences in the primary care setting; and developing research — particularly health services and health disparities research — in the Department of Internal Medicine and beyond.
Talk a bit about your background: Why did you decide to work in primary care?
I originally went into medicine thinking I wanted to be a psychiatrist because I wanted to help patients who struggled with mental health issues. During medical school, however, I realized that I did not want to narrow my expertise to one area. It became clear to me that the best job for me would be as a primary care physician who developed long-term relationships with my patients, treated the whole person and had the opportunity to care for people with depression and anxiety. And, it turns out, this is what I do and I love it.
How do you envision primary care changing in the next 5-10 years?
This is such a challenging question. I have been in training or in practice for about 20 years, and the environment for primary care has changed in many ways during that time. What I have observed in the last several years is an increased recognition of the value of primary care, particularly for health systems and in the setting of accountable care organizations. I hope this continues to be true and that with this increased recognition of the value of primary care is a focus on how to facilitate the provision of high-quality primary care and to make the job of a primary care physician a desirable one, both for those already in practice and for medical students.
What role does Dell Med have in helping to improve primary care in Central Texas?
Dell Med has the opportunity to serve as:
- A voice for improving primary care in Central Texas;
- A resource for studying what is working and what can be improved and a clearinghouse for data on populations served and their particular primary care needs; and
- A home for innovating and evaluating novel ways of improving primary care in Central Texas.
Where do community physicians fit into your vision for the Division of Primary Care?
Community physicians are the backbone of primary care. Working with them to enhance the delivery and coordination of care is critical to improving the health of Travis County.
There needs to be a positive, trusting relationship built with community physicians and practices so we can work toward a shared goal of enhancing primary care (and their work lives).
Talk about some of your research interests and how you expect to integrate those into your work in Austin.
Reducing health disparities and advancing health equity have been central to my research, clinical and academic career. My primary passions are investigating how to provide linguistic access to patients who do not speak English well or at all and how community-based interventions can enhance health and reduce health disparities. I am particularly interested in studying how mutually beneficial partnerships between health care organizations and community-based organizations can advance health equity in underserved communities. I can’t imagine a place where my research interests are a better match. I look forward to continuing to conduct research in these areas.
There’s a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians. What can Dell Med do to integrate primary care into the medical school curriculum and to address the shortage?
Provide medical students with exposure to excellent primary care role models who love what they do, provide scholarships to students who want to go into primary care, and give students exposure to the rewards of a continuity relationship with patients. All three are things that Dell Med is doing.
Breakfast tacos are kind of a big deal here. Pick your poison: bacon, chorizo or migas?
Can I admit in Texas that I don’t eat red meat? Hands down, migas. I’m looking forward to eating tacos every day if I want!