OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Rural hospitals across the country are facing staff shortages. To help fill the gap, CHI Health is partnering with Creighton University School of Medicine to launch a residency program for future physicians.
“We’re actually expanding our residency training program so that the doctors we train can train in rural areas without CHI Health partners,” said Dr. Joann Porter, associate dean of the Creighton School of Medicine.
Dr. Porter says there is a great need to train doctors in rural Nebraska — 34% of the state’s population lives in rural communities.
According to the Rural Health Information Hub, people living in rural communities see higher death rates from cancers, lung disease, stroke, trauma and diabetes compared to urban areas.
“There are much higher rates of death and disease in rural counties,” said Dr. Porter. “More poverty, more doctors retiring, so this is really important and I’m very excited to do this.”
Here’s how the new residency program will work:
Internal medicine and psychiatry residents will spend half of their residency training at CHI Bergan Mercy in Omaha. The other half will be spent at CHI Health Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney.
“Teaching part of your practice of medicine in those communities gives you a leg up,” said Dr. Cary Ward, chief medical officer at CHI. “Better diagnostic skills, better ability to diagnose conditions earlier, so it’s a win-win.”
Dr. Porter says most doctors end up in the city where they train.
“We know that’s where residents end up in their training, regardless of country, because they’re raising their families,” said Dr. Porter. “They’ve created community and that’s where they tend to stay.”
They hope this type of residency program will attract doctors to stay in the rural areas where they train — especially where they are needed — to make a difference in the lives of the people who live there.
“There are many great doctors in our state who would like to practice in rural areas,” said Dr. Ward. “There’s a lot of rewards and it’s going to help them get there and get them there, no doubt.”
The program is currently accepting applications. They say they have had tremendous interest in the program and it will be competitive.
Matchday takes place in March, with new residents starting their roles in July.
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