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Program History

History of the Tufts FMR

During the 1950's and 60's the community of Malden, MA had nearly 40 general practitioners, but by 1988 Dr. Sidney Zeitler was one of only two family doctors in Malden as many others had either retired or passed away. It was Dr. Zeitler who first sounded the alarm over the dwindling supply of family physicians in the Malden community and worked with the old Malden Hospital to initiate a program to recruit, train, and place a continued supply of family physicians in the community. As president of the MA Academy of Family Physicians and Chief of the Department of Family Medicine at Malden Hospital, Dr. Zeitler was a motivating force in the development of a Family Practice Residency Program.

In 1989, a report by the MA Executive Office of Human Services concluded that there was a need for more primary care physicians and suggested state funding for new family practice residency programs in Massachusetts. In 1990, the Board of Trustees of the old Malden Hospital voted to establish a family practice residency program.

When Dr. Zeitler passed away in December 1990, there were no family physicians left in Malden. Six months later, on May 20, 1991, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) notified the old Malden Hospital that the residency program had passed the highest level of accreditation, a designation which was repeated in 1995 and 1998.

In November 1992 the residency interviewed its first applicants and later welcomed its first class of residents in July 1993. At this time, the residency was affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine.

In July 1993 The Malden Hospital Family Practice Residents were the first group of family practice residents to ever train in a Boston tertiary medical center (Boston City Hospital, now Boston Medical Center). Malden residents continued to receive five months of rotations in pediatrics and Ob-Gyn at Boston Medical Center for the next six years. In November 1994 Joseph Gravel, MD, joined the program faculty, having been a faculty member at the Fairfax Family Practice Center/Medical College of Virginia FP Residency in Fairfax, VA. In October 1995 Dr. Gravel became Program Director. In July 1996 the family practice residency grew to six residents per year.

An outside consultant from the AAFP was invited by the residency's program director to visit in December 1998. After careful analysis a recommendation was made to expand the program to eight residents. This occurred in July 1999. Tufts' and NEMC's desire to further develop family medicine as an area of academic and clinical excellence led to discussions with the residency program. These discussions culminated in the creation of the Tufts University Family Practice Residency on July 1, 1999.

After an intensive national search, new family practice faculty started work at Tufts' Department of Family Medicine and Community Health in the summer of 1999. The residency welcomed its first eight-member class and two additional second year residents that same summer, coming from medical schools all across the US. Eight months of selected rotations at New England Medical Center and NEMC's Boston Floating Hospital for Children were developed to complement training received in the community setting.

In 2001, Hallmark Health sold the nearby Whidden Memorial Hospital to Cambridge Health Alliance, a regional community health system with a national reputation for its community and academic mission. Based on this national reputation in August 2006, Tufts University Family Medicine Residency requested, and Hallmark Health agreed, to transfer the Family Medicine residency program to Cambridge Health Alliance. In September 2006, the program was re-accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) after a successful site visit during the previous summer. The nationally-known Tufts University Family Medicine Residency thus joined forces with this regional community health system to offer the best in family medicine training and innovative patient care.