The Kendig Family Medicine Fund

Newton E. Kendig II, MD

The sixth of seven relatives to study medicine at Jefferson, Newton E. Kendig II, MD ’84 strengthened his family’s ties to the university by establishing the Kendig Family Medicine Fund. This fund supports training programs in the Department of Family and Community Medicine for students, residents, and fellows and currently focusing on caring for patients in Philadelphia's immigrant and refugee community as well as patients with on HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

"A common theme for Kendig physicians from any generation has been serving the underserved, mostly through practicing family medicine,” says Kendig. “This is so much less about the Kendig name and so much more about helping to ensure that academic family medicine at Jefferson builds upon its proud history to graduate future primary care physicians who, in the spirit of the Kendig family, will serve the underserved, whether in rural America or the inner city.”

Although he diverged from the family trend by pursuing a career in infectious diseases rather than family medicine, Kendig still focuses on treating the underserved as a way of promoting public health.

After earning an MD at Jefferson, he completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital and went on to train in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins. He eventually retired from his post as assistant surgeon general in the United States Public Health Service and former medical director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the United States Department of Justice. Today, Kendig is clinical professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, where he spearheads the Criminal Justice Health Initiative, which gives medical students clinical rotations at correctional facilities and provides training in correctional medicine.

Seeing family practitioners as the anchors of healthcare, Kendig is concerned that medical students’ interest in primary care is decreasing as tuition—and therefore debt upon graduation—rises and more lucrative specialties draw attention. The Kendig Family Medicine Fund helps the department prepare future physicians to care for some of the most vulnerable patients in America—those with HIV/AIDS, those who are homeless or immigrants, and those whose race, ethnicity, or zip code puts them at risk because they can’t get appropriate primary care. 

Kendig is proud that his nephew, Marshal Miller, MD ’12, remained at Jefferson to do a residency in family and community medicine with a focus on serving the underserved. He is currently a clinical assistant professor. The sixth-generation Kendig family member to attend Jefferson, Miller has pledged to carry on his predecessors’ tradition of caring for those with limited resources and, like his uncle, he recognizes an urgent need for philanthropic support for primary-care programs.

“As family doctors, with our intimate knowledge of our patients and our fingers on the pulse of our communities, we’re in a position to have great impact. This is not just about supporting existing student and resident initiatives, clinical experiences, and research experiences of the department, but about finding ways to support the next student who has a big heart and a brilliant idea and can make the same kind of change as other giants at Jefferson,” Miller says.

Kendig thinks of the Kendig Family Medicine Fund as “jumpstart” funding that will grow over time through alumni contributions that help to fill a growing need. The department will continue using the funds to support HIV/AIDS and Hep-C education.  With more contributions, the department will be able to support its Physician Shortage Area Program and Urban Underserved Program. These programs prepare Sidney Kimmel Medical College students, especially those entering family practice, for careers in places where doctors are needed most.

To date, the Kendig Family Medicine Fund has been used to purchase several learning materials including online ultrasound modules for residents, a procedures in primary care textbook for reference during procedures clinic, and a dermoscopy book. These materials help our residents learn skills that they can use when they rotate at the Wyss Wellness Center, a full spectrum primary care clinic that serves immigrants and refugees. We also purchased a medical Spanish course online for residents who are interested in learning or advancing their Spanish.

Dr. Kendig invites everyone who cares about the underserved to make a gift to the Kendig Family Medicine Fund. “Together, we can help Jefferson train physicians dedicated to caring for the disadvantaged,” he says. “That way no one gets left behind.”