Message from the Director

Rachel Willard-Grace, MPH

Director, Center for Excellence in Primary Care


My first taste of primary care was as a medical assistant and pharmacy tech, and later Executive Director, of a free clinic in central Texas 20 years ago. Like many jobs in primary care, the experience was overwhelming, exhausting, and intoxicating. Lines of people waiting for care stretched around the block. Our staff of three scrambled to secure medications and equipment for patients, coordinate schedules for 140 volunteers, and follow up on test results. We held hands with people just diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, filled out hundreds of applications for prescription assistance, and wrote grant proposals late at night over cups of diner coffee.

When I walked into the UCSF Center for Excellence in Primary Care in 2010, it was a homecoming for me: it was a return to primary care, this time in support of the valiant people in the front lines of our work and of the patients who are striving to control the factors impacting their health. The urgency of our work is ever present. Our clinic partners need tools to improve their practices and to measure those changes. They need to know if health coaching or scribing work and whether they provide a return on investment. They need practical tools to strengthen their teams and better serve their patients.

I am humbled and privileged to continue to work with you as the Director of the Center for Excellence in Primary Care. I look forward to talking with many of you about how we can move forward together: gleaning best practices from innovative practices, advancing the evidence base for new models of care, and providing practical tools to support those doing this great work!

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