Our History

Our Birth

We were called Community Health and Medical Practice in the ‘60s, and during that time we were the home to a number of loosely associated programs. Our department included a handful of physicians who provided health care to patients in a small clinic located on the back of the School of Medicine. Faculty, space, and funding were in limited supply. It was clear then that gaining institutional commitment and earning a place alongside the other specialties was going to be a challenge … but our early leaders faced the challenge and succeeded in their efforts.

By the mid-‘70s, after we had developed the Family Practice Residency, we earned full department status.  MU changed our name to Family and Community Medicine appointing Dr. Jack Colwill as chair. He served in that role for 25 years. Today, our department includes 75 faculty members, 50 staff members ­ including APRNs and librarians, and fellows,  and 36 residents. We manage eight practices in six locations, plus MU’s Urgent Care facility and three Mizzou Quick Care clinics. Patient visits total nearly 160,000 annually. Thanks to the vision and hard work of many dedicated people, we have established ourselves as one of the premier family medicine departments in the nation.

Our Growth

Family and Community Medicine at MU has been selected as one of the top 10 departments in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for nearly 25 years. This recognition is based on expert opinion and other indicators of program strength ­ including effectiveness of teaching, scholarly, and research efforts, as well as performance of students who trained in the program.Regardless of this designation, we believe we have been successful through commitment, collaboration, innovation, and a culture of learning and self-improvement.

Our Leadership

Department faculty members are distinguished national and local leaders. Three have been elected to membership in the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences. Two faculty members are past presidents of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and one served on the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for 11 years – including one year as Task Force Chair.

At the institutional level, Family Medicine faculty members serve (or have served) as:

  • Executive Vice Chancellor for the MU Health Care System
  • Chief Medical Information Officer for MU Health Care
  • Director of MU Interdisciplinary Center on Aging
  • Associate Dean for Curriculum (SOM)
  • Associate Dean for Curriculum and Assessment (SOM)
  • Associate Dean for Rural Health (SOM)
  • Associate Dean for Education Improvement (SOM)
  • Medical Education Director of MU-Area Health Education Centers (AHEC)
  • Medical Director for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health
  • Senior Associate Dean of Education and Faculty Development (SOM)

Caring for Patients

MU Family Medicine is committed to providing high quality, patient-centered care to a diverse patient population that includes pregnant women, children, adults, and the elderly. We care for over 50,000 unique patients from Boone, Howard, and Callaway Counties. Outpatient visits in MU Family Medicine, Urgent Care, and Quick Care clinics total nearly 160,000 annually. In addition, Family Medicine faculty and residents help staff the Family Health Center (FHC), a federally qualified community health center that serves a medically underserved population in mid-Missouri.

In January 2015, we opened our new family medicine practices at South Providence Medical Park (SPMP). Health care teams from two of our Family Medicine clinics, Green Meadows and Woodrail, moved their practices to the new SPMP building. Located six miles south of campus, this two-story, 85,000 square foot facility has outpatient clinics that provide family medicine, general pediatrics, and adult psychiatric care. Other services offered at the building include drive-through pharmacy, urgent care, lab, and imaging center.

Our department has been a key player in MU’s collaborations with the Cerner Corporation to enhance the use of information technology in managing chronic illness within the Patient Centered Medical Home. This work helped lead to the formation of the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation.

Fifteen MU family physicians have been named as the “Best Doctors in America.” The “Best Doctors” list is one of the most prestigious and credible tools available to consumers for selecting a doctor. Only four percent of all U.S. doctors are selected by their peers for this honor.

Since 2014, all of our Family Medicine clinics have received National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) PCMH Recognition – Level 3. NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition is the most widely recognized designation for medical homes.

Teaching Students, Residents and Fellows

Our educational programs are comprehensive and well regarded locally and nationally. Innovative techniques have allowed us to train superior physicians with outstanding knowledge bases, commitment to the underserved, and culturally effective care skills.

Family Medicine maintains a strong interest and highly visible presence in the School of Medicine. Our faculty members were leaders in developing the problem-based learning curriculum implemented more than 20 years ago. Today, we teach in all four years of medical school. The interest in family medicine is strong among medical students; they have historically entered family medicine residency programs at twice the national average for US medical students.

Since 1975, our Family Medicine Residency program has trained 440 physicians, and today, these graduates are improving health for patients and communities in 39 states and several countries. Of our residency alums, 16 percent work in rural communities, 17 percent provide care primarily to the underserved, and 13 percent have pursued careers in academic medicine.

Our Family Medicine Academic Fellowship program, developed in 1979, has trained nearly 75 primary care physicians. Most serve on faculties in medical school departments and residency programs across the country. Many have assumed key roles in dean’s offices and provide national leadership in primary care and public health, and others have become successful researchers and innovators in curriculum development. Last year we started an online degree program: MS in Academic Medicine degree available to physician faculty nationwide.

Research and Scholarly Activities

Our department has a broad range of research activities consistent with the multidisciplinary composition of the faculty. Since 1996, MU Family Medicine faculty and fellows have published nearly 1,200 peer-reviewed papers. Research topics conducted by department faculty include community-based participatory research with indigenous Americans, advancing nonsmoking community wide policies, health issues for sexual and gender minority patients, use of health coaches in treatment of diabetes, EHR patient-physician interaction in managing chronic disease, and team function and caregiver support in hospice and palliative care.

The MU Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research was established in 2013. This $4.5 million project, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is a multidisciplinary, five-year effort designed to advance research focusing on outcomes important to patients.

To learn more about our researchers and the work they are doing, we invite you to take a look at our Meet Our Family Medicine Researchers guide.