Preventive Medicine Residency

With PH administrators in Erbil, Iraq


The Boston University Preventive Medicine (PM) Residency has a close affiliation with the Academic Primary Care Fellowship. Some participants in the PM residency apply to the fellowship program with a focus on academic medicine and subsequently elect to do the residency after acceptance into the fellowship program, whereas others come specifically for the residency program in Preventive Medicine with an intention to pursue a public health career. The Preventive Medicine Residency was started as an offshoot of the GIM Fellowship in the late 1980s. Unlike the Academic Primary Care fellowship program, it is an accredited program through the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Because the fellowship is not an ACGME accredited program, all fellowship activities count toward the PM Residency. The national requirements of the PM Residency largely overlap with the fellowship requirements:

  1. A clinical internship. All our PM residents complete a primary care clinical residency in the United States prior to entering the program. Usually these are internal medicine, family medicine or pediatrics programs. Our program is not accredited to offer this option.
  2. An academic year consisting of a Masters degree at an accredited School of Public Health. Our PM residents complete one of three degree options: Masters of Science in Epidemiology, Masters of Science in Health Services or Masters of Public Health. Each degree qualifies for the national requirements, although PM residents in the MS degree programs are required to take an additional course in Environmental health. See description of SPH training for more information.
  3. A “practicum year”, which includes a variety of scenarios nationally. In our program, this includes clinical (e.g. primary care) exposure, research projects and practical experience in a public health setting. This varies widely from program to program around the country. All of the fellowship activities apart from the SPH are counted toward the practicum year. In addition, the PM residents are required to do a project at a Federal, State, or Local public health agency that is the equivalent of two months of full time work. See below for more details on the public health agency experience.

Our program runs the academic and practicum simultaneously over the two years and do not accept applicants to do only the practicum year.

Requirements above and beyond the general fellowship curriculum (see fellowship curriculum for more information) include clinical prevention rotations and a two-month equivalent experience in a public health agency.


The equivalent of two months per year are required by the ACGME to fulfill the clinical requirement of direct patient care. At least half of these required sessions will be fulfilled by the resident primary care continuity clinic. The other half may be made up of the following clinical preventive medicine rotations at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and elsewhere:

1. Smoking Cessation Program – BMC

2. Tuberculosis Clinic-Boston Public Health Commission – BMC

3. Nutrition and Weight Management Center – BMC

4. Cardiovascular Prevention – BMC

5. Sexually Transmitted Disease and Travel Clinic – BMC

6. Integrative Medicine – BMC

7. Addiction Medicine – BMC and offsite

8. Occupational Health – BMC


Participation in the PM residency leads to board eligibility. The PM residency graduates are expected to take the PM boards in November after they graduate. To help the residents prepare, an in-service exam is offered each year and the lecture series is geared to give specific knowledge that will be useful to pass the board exams.


The public health agency experience includes an individualized program for each PM resident that combines the resident’s interest with a public health agency needs. As a general rule, these are run on a longitudinal basis at a Boston area agency site. On occasion, PM residents can take a leave of absence from Boston to work at a distant site, either nationally or internationally. Examples of recent experiences include:

  • Working with the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health (DPH) to craft a document on the burden of cancer in Massachusetts by a resident interested in cancer control. (Career interest: Cancer control)
  • Participating in a state task force on Suicide prevention through DPH (Career and research interest: adherence to depression guideline)
  • Working with DPH vaccine control to promote flu vaccination among health care personnel and hospitalized patients
  • Organizing a coalition of colleges and emergency response agencies to develop guidelines for treatment of intoxicated college students (Career and research interest: substance abuse prevention in young persons)
  • Teaching Obstetric Care Lifesaving to Eastern European obstetrical care practitioners, organized by international organizations
  • Directing a state-wide community based study on osteoporosis prevention, funded by DPH (clinical and research interest: bone health/women’s health)
  • Developing patient education materials in foreign languages for specific populations serviced by neighborhood health centers.

In addition to these individual activities, PM fellows also have exposure to some standard health agency activities: meetings of the board of the local and state departments of public health, a meeting of the board of registration, a hearing at the state legislature, etc.