“We now have the infrastructure to support training and, more importantly, we have enthusiastic support from the medical staff at Kennestone who sees this as a great opportunity to both improve patient care and to engage those physicians who are eager to teach,” said Don Campbell, M.D., WellStar’s senior vice president for physician education and student affiliations.
An increased numbers of physicians, particularly primary care physicians, is evident when looking at the aging population and the anticipated needs for wellness and prevention services because the effects of the Affordable Care Act. The need for residency training positions has dramatically increased as medical schools across the country have increased their class size and new medical schools have opened.
Georgia is a net exporter of medical school graduates, most of whom will practice near where they do their residency training outside of Georgia. Georgia’s medical schools have increased their enrollments over the past five years, yet the number of residency training positions has not kept pace with the increased class size.
“Kennestone has a broad scope of high quality services that will make it a great place for residents to train,” said Bob Lubitz, M.D., vice president, medical affairs at Kennestone. Lubitz has had extensive experience with graduate medical education in his previous role as the chief academic officer of the Ascension Health System. He is a member of the newly formed Graduate Medical Education Committee that was chartered in April at Kennestone to begin the formation of a residency training program.
After a site visit to Kennestone, the ACGME New Program Committee approved Kennestone’s application for institutional accreditation in October. This approval sets the stage for the development of each of the six planned programs. Programs are currently being planned in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology and the transitional year.
The transitional year is a one-year general program that prepares physicians for specialty training in areas such as radiology. If all deadlines are met and programs approved, Kennestone will see its first residents in July 2016. When all programs are completely staffed in 2021, there will be 70 to 80 residents onsite at Kennestone and in primary care offices connected to Kennestone’s family practice and internal medicine programs.
As part of the ramp-up to residency training, WellStar’s Student Affiliations office will increase the number of medical students who do clinical rotations at WellStar hospitals and physician practices.
Recognized as the fifth most integrated health care delivery system in the country, WellStar Health System is one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in Georgia and serves a population of nearly 1.4 million residents in five counties.