Hatch named director of Free Center

Professor becomes inaugural director of H. James Free, MD, Center for Primary Care Education and Innovation.

By Czerne M. Reid

Robert L. Hatch, MD, an award-winning teacher and renowned researcher, has been appointed the inaugural director of the College of Medicine’s H. James Free, MD, Center for Primary Care Education and Innovation.

Hatch, a professor and director of medical education in the department of community health and family medicine, has been a family physician for 25 years, has taught primary care to medical students and residents for two decades and worked with national family medicine professional organizations to address improving how medical students and residents learn to provide primary care.

“Dr. Hatch is exceedingly well-qualified to fulfill this role, which calls for him to develop and coordinate primary care education programs and innovative models of primary care delivery within the College of Medicine and Shands in collaboration with all the colleges of UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center,” said Michael L. Good, MD, dean of the College of Medicine.

Hatch earned his medical degree and master’s in public health at the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed residency and fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.

His research has been supported by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute for Health Care Research and the Global Medicine Education Foundation. He also has served on the editorial advisory board for the Cardiology Patient Education Manual and as a grant reviewer for several funders, including the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Hatch’s work in medical education has been recognized with many awards, such as the Hippocratic Award, the American Association of Medical Colleges Humanism in Medicine Award, the Golden Apple Award for Best Third Year Clerkship, and the Society of Family Medicine President’s Award.

Under Hatch’s leadership, the Free Center, which is named after Jim Free, MD, a member of the College of Medicine’s first graduating class of 1960, will become a hub for medical education efforts that focus on primary care education and innovative primary care practice models, while serving to demonstrate the rewards of primary care careers to medical students.

“The goal is that our college will produce graduates who embody the spirit of Dr. Jim Free, who places the highest value on the connection between physician and patient,” Good said. “It is that spirit and set of values that we wish to convey to our students, and Dr. Hatch is just the person to lead us in this endeavor.”