IRMC Receives National Accreditation for Rural Family Medicine Residency Program | Community News

The majority of our country’s health care shortage areas are located in rural areas. As most rural citizens know, recruiting physicians to rural communities is a challenge.

An effective solution to this challenge is to move physician training programs to these rural areas. When physicians train in rural settings, they become more comfortable with a rural style of practicing medicine. Data indicates that physicians who complete their training in rural areas are more likely to stay in those areas to practice. About 50 percent of medical residents will stay within a radius of their residency training program.

“Many people have contributed to this vital project that will help us develop and retain strong physicians for the people we serve,” said Stephen A. Wolfe, president and CEO of Indiana Regional Medical Center.

IRMC management recognized this trend in 2019 and began the process of developing higher medical education at IRMC. Graduate medical education (GME), also known as residency training, is the term used to describe the specialty-specific training that physicians complete after their four years of undergraduate training and four years of medical school. IRMC chose to begin a family medicine residency because of the flexibility and versatility of family physicians who can provide patient care from neonates to geriatrics, and even obstetric care. At IRMC, residents of the region can find family physicians in outpatient settings, in the hospital department, in the emergency room and even in the office of the CMO. Because of this versatility, graduates of the family medicine residency program can help fill a wide variety of health care shortages in our community. Investment in primary care is fundamental to providing health care with reduced cost and reduced mortality.

Each resident class will have six members who will remain at IRMC during their three-year residency, so at full strength IRMC will have 18 family medicine residents in training. The first six residents are expected to start on July 1.

The national accrediting agency, the Accreditation Council for Higher Medical Education (ACGME), requires an accreditation process for the hospital/facility followed by an accreditation process for the residency program himself.

This is the second accreditation that has just been obtained, and IRMC will now begin a national recruitment process. Medical school graduates from across the country and even the world will apply for the six positions available at IRMC. The interview season will conclude with a national matching process, and IRMC will find out who will participate in the program in March 2022.

IRMC’s new Department of Graduate Medical Education is leading the accreditation process, which includes Dr. Richard Neff, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), who will also act as the Designated Institutional Lead (DIO) for the new residency. The next member of the GME department is family physician and program director, Dr. Amanda Vaglia. Vaglia, who currently practices at Clymer, will retain some clinical responsibilities as she transitions to additional supervisory and residency administration roles. IRMC Sports Medicine Family Physician Dr. Brian Stone will serve as Associate Program Director and Director of Osteopathy for the new residency program. The final member of the GME department is Ashley McDonald, from Nicktown, who will act as coordinator of the family medicine residency program. She comes to IRMC with a strong background in undergraduate medical education at WVU before moving to Nicktown.

Due to the broad scope of family medicine, resident physicians will work and train throughout the IRMC system. The outpatient office for the residency will be located at Mahoning Medical Center at Marion Center. The Mahoning Medical Center Community Board has been extremely supportive of the development of IRMC’s residency, and IRMC is in the process of remodeling the upper tier of the facility to prepare for the first class of new physicians to interview and to register.

Residence Director of Prenatal Services, Dr. Julie DeRosa, along with resident physicians, will provide prenatal services in her office at Mahoning Medical Center, in addition to the full range of family medicine patients, from neonate to geriatrics.

While preparing for recruiting season, IRMC has built stronger relationships with regional medical schools and welcomes medical students for clinical rotations. You can also see more of these learners at IRMC.

Additionally, IRMC relied on COVID-times collaboration with colleagues at Indiana University in Pennsylvania.

Due to the need for scientific activity for residents, the GME department will work with Dr. Hilliary Creely and his colleagues at the IUP Research Institute. Collaborations are also developing with the Food and Nutrition Department of the IUP directed by Dr Stephanie Taylor-Davis as well as Dr David LaPorte of the Psy-D program of the IUP. Discussions are even underway to work with the theater department of the IUP to work with residents on empathy training. This residency development process received support from the IRMC Board of Directors early in the process. The leadership and medical staff of IRMC have enthusiastically supported this effort to complement and secure the future of the healthcare system here in Indiana and the surrounding region.

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