New model addresses America’s shortage of primary care physicians and changes in federal funding for medical training
Mesa, AZ: February 19, 2013 The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education (Scranton, PA) more than $4 million to launch a national family-medicine residency program in partnership with A.T. Still University of Health Sciences’ School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona. The groundbreaking, multi-state, centrally run medical residency program will place up to 29 medical school graduates per year over three years (87 graduates) in community health centers around the country as part of a residency program in family medicine.
The new program is a potential model for residency programs across the country in that it addresses two of the nation’s most pressing healthcare challenges — the shortage of primary care physicians trained to work with America’s most vulnerable populations and the potential changes in federal funding which may leave thousands of new doctors without a place to complete their training.
The program’s objective is to create a pipeline of doctors trained to work with underserved rural and urban populations and in team-based practices that emphasize keeping entire communities healthy. With research showing that new doctors tend to practice in the communities where they have done their residencies, there is a glaring need to create opportunities for residents to train in these communities.
Unlike most residency programs, which both take place in and are managed by individual hospitals or medical centers, the Wright Center-ATSU collaboration will be a multi-state but centrally run effort spread among healthcare organizations in five states — Arizona, Ohio, Oregon, New York and Washington – and the District of Columbia. The residency program will deliver an innovative curriculum with a strong community focus combined with comprehensive training and unique opportunities.
Applications for the new residency program are currently being reviewed. The 29 residents chosen to participate in the first year of the national family-medicine residency program will be divided among six community health centers located in medically underserved areas. The learning centers are the Virginia Garcia Memorial Healthcare Center (Hillsboro, OR), Lutheran Family Health Centers(Brooklyn, NY), HealthSource of Ohio (Milford, OH), HealthPoint (Renton, WA), the El Rio Community Health Center (Tucson, AZ) and Unity Health Care (Washington, DC).
Said Thomas McWilliams, DO, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at A. T. Still University of Health Sciences’ School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA), who helped develop the program, “Residents will receive the benefits of modern ambulatory training coupled with carefully selected hospital training experiences using an innovative, nationally-accredited residency curriculum led and supervised by The Wright Center and A. T. Still University.”
He continued, “These residencies will serve as a model for a new paradigm for training physicians to function effectively within a rapidly evolving healthcare system. Physicians trained in these programs will become leaders in shaping medicine in this country and will be a force to improve the health of individual patients as well as the overall health of their communities.”
Said Wright Center President and CEO Linda Thomas-Hemak, MD, “Since 2011, The Wright Center has acted as a teaching health center GME consortium spreading our rich tradition of academic excellence in an educational infrastructure throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. We are privileged to have the opportunity — through collaboration with A.T. Still University of Health Sciences’ Schoolof Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona — to nationalize our efforts.”
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About The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education
The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education (WCGME) is an independent 501(C) (3) not-for-profit ACGME/AOA-accredited residency sponsoring institution. The Wright Center’s dual mission is to provide excellence in Graduate Medical Education (GME) in an innovative and collaborative spirit in order to deliver high quality, evidence-based and patient-centered care. The organization was founded in 1976 in Scranton,Pennsylvania, to promote professional healthcare self-renewal and continuous quality enhancement of our regional community’s healthcare delivery system through GME. As a testimonial to its community-driven mission governance, the Wright Center is proudly recognized as the most significant regional primary care manpower renewal force and has 260 graduates, including 160 practicing primary care physicians. For more information visit www.thewrightcenter.org.
About A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU)
Founded in 1892 and the country’s first osteopathic medical school, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences (ATSU) has grown into a comprehensive graduate health education institution with campuses in Mesa, Az., and Kirksville, Mo., as well as a broad range of distance-learning programs. ATSU offers graduate degrees in 14 healthcare disciplines, including osteopathic medicine, dental medicine, bioscience, public health, audiology and physical and occupational therapy. In keeping with its nonprofit mission to care for those with little or no access to healthcare, ATSU trains students to work in rural, inner-city and other underserved communities. For more information visit www.atsu.edu.
About ATSU School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA)
More than an osteopathic medical school, A. T. Still University of Health Sciences’ School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) is a team of clinicians, educators, and students who share a passion and commitment for whole person healthcare. Established in 2006, its unique curriculum integrates clinical presentation and extensive clinical experience into a relevant and applicable program of study. For more information visit www.atsu.edu/soma.
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The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education
570.343.2383, ext. 2311
A. T. Still University of Health Sciences
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