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How Macy’s Support Helped Revitalize the Primary Care System

New York, NY

An excerpt from our Special Report of the President.

It is hard to overstate the profound impact of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation on our non-profit, Primary Care Progress, since our formation 8 years ago.

Firstly, the Foundation’s seminal work promoting the importance of revitalizing our primary care system and creating greater alignment between health professions education and the realities of care delivery helped set the compass heading for our team when we launched in 2010. As a new organization, we were deeply impacted by the myriad of timely insights from the 2010 Macy primary care report, and saw our grassroots approach to primary care educational reform as an important piece of the puzzle.

Secondly, we were fortunate to be awarded a President’s grant. This was essential for us—not just in terms of the financial lift—but in terms of the endorsement from George Thibault and the Foundation. When you’re a new organization without a track record or some of the essential infrastructure of more typical groups, it can be hard—and sometimes impossible—to get traction. This is especially the case when you’re using a novel strategy—like grassroots organizing in academic settings. George and the Foundation’s belief in us and our approach was an incredible boost, opening doors and conversations with other funders and thought leaders that were essential to us getting Primary Care Progress off the ground.

The Macy Foundation network includes groups and institutions, doing cutting edge work, all full of passionate, thoughtful people who were pushing the envelope in a variety of ways. Having access to those groups and being in conversation with so many of them, helped accelerate the necessary “cultural drift” within our own organization—as we were profoundly impacted by the groups around us.

Initially, we were an organization of physicians and physicians-in-training. Being a part of the Macy network—and fortunate to attend a Macy convening on the role of nurses in primary care— opened our eyes to the essential need to be interprofessional—and I’m proud to say that’s what we’ve been ever since. The direct conversations we had with George, Yasmine and other members of the Foundation staff helped us be more strategic in our work. They challenged us to spend less time figuring out what we were going to do, and more time being clear on what we would not do—the ultimate challenge for a non-profit. Thank goodness for that!

Finally, it’s impossible to talk about the impact of the Foundation on our organization without talking about George Thibault and the profound personal influence he has had on me. I’ve known George since I was a third-year medical student, and at each stage of my professional life, I can vividly remember interactions with him that helped shape my ultimate trajectory. Whether those were helping me understand how to most effectively make the most of my unique third year clerkship experience, encouraging me to spread the grassroots strategy we were using beyond our Boston medical school, or really challenging me to carefully consider the ramifications of a change in strategy we were briefly contemplating at Primary Care Progress years ago, his words, curiosity and kindness were extremely powerful.

I feel blessed to have been able to benefit from George’s mentorship and we at Primary Care Progress feel the same way about being in the Macy Foundation orbit.

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