GALLIPOLIS — Some fresh new faces will be visiting the area soon — and they plan to stay for a while.
Holzer Health System officially unveiled its new physician training program Tuesday as it begins partnering with Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine to train medical students through a new residency program.
The Holzer Graduate Medical Education Program will be the first of its kind at Holzer. Ten total third-year students – six from OUHCOM and four from WVSOM — will make up the inaugural contingent. The four students from WVSOM began their residency on Monday, while OUHCOM will begin Aug. 3.
Dr. Lois Bosley, a Holzer physician since 1993, is OUHCOM’s assistant dean and will oversee students who will live in the area and work at Holzer for the next two years. Dr. Gail Feinberg will serve as regional assistant dean for the WVSOM students.
“When you look at health care delivery systems just in the state of Ohio, we are probably the only one, of our size, that isn’t underpinned with undergraduate medical education programs and doesn’t have a relatively large cadre of students and residents rotating through all of the various services on a regular basis,” Dr. Christopher Meyer, CEO of Holzer Health System, said. “And that makes a difference because having residents and students around is an impetus — a stimulus — for success, improvement and challenge.”
Meyer said having residents working with area physicians will cultivate immeasurable benefits in terms of quality of care and recruitment.
“We estimate about 30 percent of people who train in residency programs stay in the area in which they trained,” he said. “For us in Appalachian Southeastern Ohio, an area that is under-served by primary care physicians and other specialties, it’s important that we have that advantage and that leg up.”
Dr. Christopher Marazon, who will serve as director of the Graduate Medical Program, said medical students must go through four years of undergraduate school, four additional years of medical school and serve three years in a residency program before they can practice medicine on their own. A residency, he said, allows students to discover and train in a certain area of medicine, such as family practice, orthopedics, hematology, oncology, cardiology and the like, while working with experienced physicians as mentors.
“It’s where they decide what they want to be when they grow up,” he said. “They need those additional years of training to master a certain skill within the broad spectrum of medicine.”
Like experienced physicians, Marazon said residents are able to see patients, write prescriptions, order lab tests, etc. — all under the supervision of an experienced physician.
The students will spend a lot of time observing other residents and faculty physicians while learning how to take care of patients under their supervision. This on-the-job apprentice-like training is supplemented by daily lectures and case conferences which involve reviews of patient problems. Long hours, sometimes 12-hour days and weekends, will not be uncommon, Marazon said.
“If a patient comes into the emergency department, residents may go to see about their ankle sprain or the chest cold,” he said. “Patients may get faster access to care.”
Marazon said residents serve as another set of eyes and ears for physicians, as well as ask questions of attending physicians. He said the goal is to increase the number of total residents in the program to 24 each year.
“They are young people who we are encouraging to come into our community,” he said. “They will be here at least 11 months of the year, earning salary and spending money here.”
Feinberg, the regional assistant dean from WVSOM, said the school has been trying for the last four years to establish a residency partnership with Holzer.
“I can’t tell you how happy we are that Dr. Meyers was on board,” She said. “This facility has so many quality physicians and it’s an untapped resource. Both Ohio University and WVSOM are in under-served areas, and part of the mission of the schools is to train physicians to come back and work in primary care in those under-served communities.”
As far as expense, Holzer officials said the costs of the residency programs are largely reimbursed by the federal government through Medicare. Holzer bears costs as well for both students and residents, and each of the participating medical schools are contributing financial support for the establishment of the training programs.
Family Medicine residents joining Holzer are Dr. Ben Jaderholm, Dr. Christopher Jude and Dr. Tony Valentine. Jaderholm attended Des Moines University, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines, Iowa, Dr. Jude attended the University of Pikeville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pikeville, Ky. and Dr. Valentine attended Lake Erie College of Ostoepathic Medicine in Erie, Pa.
OUHCOM students are Cassandra (Casie) Boltja, Jennifer (Jenny) Hatfield, Andrea Merry, Adrienne Roark, Jennifer (Jen) Smith, and Morgan Werry. WVSOM students include Ammar Haffar, Onyinyechukwu Okoji, Leslee Rice and Steffi Thomas.
Holzer is also developing a relationship with the Marshall University School of Medicine and Cabell Huntington Hospital to supplement the training programs. Marshall will begin a Visiting Professor Program every Tuesday evening that will involve lectures and case presentations, referred to as “Grand Rounds,” for students, residents and Holzer faculty.
In 2016 and 2017, Marshall plans to schedule opportunities for their Huntington-based residents in specialties such as surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics for month-long rotations at Holzer.
“We are training them,” Marazon said. “Someday, they will be taking care of us. If we die because there was a mistake and it was our fault that we didn’t train them, that’s on us. We need to do everything we can to make sure they have a good experience so they can learn.”
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.