The University of Utah Department Family and Preventive Medicine was created based on a state government blue ribbon committee that was appointed to study health care needs in Utah. The report concluded there was a need for a department at the University of Utah with a focus on the study of medical care, public health, and occupational environmental health, as well as training family physicians and mid-level practitioners. On July 1, 1970, the Department of Community and Family Medicine was created, with Hilmon Castle, MD, as the first department chair and the first class of the Utah MedEx Program was created.
In 1972, the department changed its name to Department of Family and Community Medicine in an effort to emphasize the term family. The Department of Family and Community Medicine continued to grow and change. Throughout the 1970s, programs began to develop and the department introduced the Masters of Science in Community medicine, later to be known as the Public Health Graduate Program, and the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.
In 1984, F. Marian Bishop, PhD, was named as the second chair of the department. Under Dr. Bishop’s helm, the department once again changed to its current name, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.
In 1995, Michael Magill, MD, was named the third chair of the department. The department continued to thrive in training medical students, family physicians, and physician assistants, as well as providing graduate education in public health and occupational and environmental health. In 2008, under Dr. Magill’s leadership, four divisions were created to focus on expertise in each of the disciplines housed in the department, including Divisions of Family Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Health, Physician Assistant Studies, and Public Health.
After 22 years as serving as department chair, Dr. Magill stepped down and Kola Okuyemi, MD, MPH, was hired as the new chair for the department. Since Dr. Okuyemi’s arrival, the department has seen an increase in growth and development. Not only has the number of department members increased, but it has seen a growth in research opportunities, awards and funding, programs and residency educational opportunities, community engagement, clinical rotations, and diversity.
As in its beginning, the department continues to act as a bridge between the community and the larger health care system by focusing on people in a real world context. The multi-faceted disciplines housed within the department examine biological, social, environmental, and occupational influences on health and wellbeing, and implementing systems of public and personal health care to address population and primary care needs. Over the years, the department has partnered with and developed new campus locations around the world to help provide individuals around the globe with the knowledge and care that we have to give. The department seeks to protect and improve the health of individuals and communities by advancing the science and practice of primary care and prevention, and expanding the possibilities of health not only internally, but throughout communities around the world.