GREENVILLE — The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, in partnership with Miami Valley Hospital, Family Health Services of Darke County and Wayne HealthCare of Greenville, is working to address a physician shortage in rural Ohio communities through the recently accredited Rural Family Residency Program.
The goal of the residency program is to train family physicians who will establish medical practices in rural Ohio where health systems struggle to find enough doctors to meet the needs of their communities.
The Boonshoft School of Medicine recently received approval from the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education to begin the Rural Family Medicine Residency Program.
The Wright State Rural Family Medicine Residency is now accepting applications and will begin its first cohort of three residents in 2023.
For more information, visit wright.edu/ruralFM or contact Elizabeth Huff, residency coordinator, at [email protected]
The program is supported by a $750,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency has awarded 59 of these grants as of 2019, and Wright State is the only recipient in Ohio.
The Rural Family Medicine Residency Program is a 1-2 training program. Residents will spend their first year in the program training at the established Wright State Family Medicine Residency in Dayton, usually at Miami Valley Hospital, followed by two years at Greenville, where they will see patients at Wayne HealthCare, Family Health Services, or Darke County and other Greenville community sites
The program allows physicians to experience what it’s like to live and practice medicine in rural western Ohio. Greenville was chosen as the location for the residency program because of its excellent training facilities and physicians, opportunities for robust interprofessional educational experiences, and the need for physicians in Darke County.
Carlos Menendez, MD, program director for the new residency program, has practiced medicine at Greenville for 36 years. He is the program director of the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s Rural Family Medicine Residency. “The residency program is a great opportunity to share our exceptional rural field experience with a new generation of physicians,” he said. “The program will also help maintain a robust physician workforce for future generations.”
Rural residencies are needed to address the shortage of doctors in rural America. While about 20% of Americans live in rural areas, only about 10% of physicians practice in rural communities. The working population of doctors in rural areas is also ageing.
The location of housing plays a crucial role in addressing this shortage. Studies have shown that 19 percent of family physicians practice within five miles of where they completed residency and 38 percent practice within 25 miles.
“This is an important aspect as we see our established physicians retire,” Menendez said. “We hope that the Wright State Rural Family Medicine Residency Program can strengthen our patients’ confidence that their medical needs can be met at Family Health.”
After earning her medical degree and Master of Public Health from the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Sherry Adkins, MD, associate program director of the new residency, completed her residency training at a program in rural Ohio.
“It helped define me as a doctor. I knew in medical school I wanted to go home to practice, and I knew I learned best in a small environment with close mentor relationships, so I chose a country residency,” Adkins said. “I have taught BSOM students for many years and I know there is a demand for more nationwide training.”
Lori Martensen, director of rural health initiatives at Boonshoft School of Medicine, said the rural residency fits with other efforts by the School of Medicine to address Ohio’s physician shortage, especially in rural western Ohio.
For example, Wright State medical students interested in rural medicine can participate in the Wright Rural Medical Scholars Program, which allows them to complete clinical rotations in rural health systems.
“We are graduating outstanding students who want to practice in the countryside, and now we will have a residence specifically designed for rural practice for these students,” Martensen said. “Ultimately, we want the pipeline to start with rural high school students interested in medicine, whom we will nurture through college, medical school, and residency and for the pipeline to end when they get into practice in a rural community.”