March 28, 2013, Brooklyn, NY…Lutheran Family Health Centers (LFHC) is one of only six community health centers around the country participating in the first-ever multi-state medical residency program. The new program, a partnership between A.T. Still University of Health Sciences' School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (Mesa, AZ) and The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education (Scranton, PA), will focus on the much-needed primary care specialty of family medicine and will place up to 29 medical school graduates per year over three years (87 graduates) at community health centers in at-risk communities around the country.
"The program is particularly unique since it's the first to focus nationally on recruiting and training primary care physicians in community based health centers," said Larry K. McReynolds, executive director of LFHC, which will train four family medicine residents for the next three years. "These residents will be fully embedded in their community health center for the most enriching experience possible, for both them and the patients they will serve," McReynolds added.
Lutheran has a deep history in focusing on a coordinated, whole person approach to care since Dr. Eugene Fanta created New York City's first family medicine residency program at Lutheran in 1970. "This new residency program is a perfect complement to our existing residencies and what we have always felt was most important – whole person family base care," said Bill Pagano, M.D., medical director and SVP for clinical operations at the Lutheran Family Health Centers. "We are honored to join A.T. Still and the Wright Center in this initiative."
A.T. Still University (ATSU) and The Wright Center developed and will run the program, which has been funded by a $4 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. 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 ATSU-Wright Center collaboration will be a multi-state but centrally run effort spread among community health care 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 for participants.
"The medical community has an obligation to increase the number of physicians caring for America's most vulnerable populations," said Thomas McWilliams, DO, Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education at A. T. Still University of Health Sciences' School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, who helped develop the program. "It is our hope that this program will serve as new model for residency training around the country – one which guarantees that those on the edges of the healthcare system get the high-quality, compassionate care they deserve."