Making progress in cure to keep doctors here PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By JORDAN CRAVENS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 01 June 2009 10:36
For the first time in several years, the University of Toledo Medical Center has seen an increase in the number of its medical school graduates who are wanting to stay in the area and complete residency programs.
A year ago, only 6 percent of the graduates continued their residency education in the region, but this year that number has doubled, according to  Dr. Jeffrey Gold Provost and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the College of Medicine at UT.
This statistic is an important one Gold said, in that when it comes to residency, typically a 50/50 rule goes into effect. By this rule of thumb, 50 percent of graduates who complete their residencies in the area are likely to begin their practice within 50 miles of where their training occurred.
For Northwest Ohio citizens, this means an increased likelihood for physicians who received their eduction here to continue practicing nearby.
Reversing this trend of why physicians don't stay in the area was a goal of the Commission on the Future of Health Care Education and Retention in Northwest Ohio. The committee was headed by Ohio Representative Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) along with several other politicians and health care providers, as appointed by the governor, Speaker of the House and president of the Senate.
While the commission dissolved in May of 2008, its recommendations still stand in working toward keeping doctors in the area, creating partnerships between medical systems and improving health care in Northwest Ohio.
Some of the recommendations call for legislative action including: a loan repayment and forgiveness program for students who establish practice in Northwest Ohio and faculty/preceptor compensation to help defray cost of training medical students during clinical rotations.
Five other recommendations seek voluntary action from hospitals and health systems. These include: establishing a graduate medical education oversight group, which would include quarterly meetings between Mercy, ProMedica and St. Luke's medical systems and the UT Medical Center; establishing a graduate medical education scorecard; a non-leverage agreement signed by Mercy, ProMedica, St. Luke's and UT; coordination of slot allocations for residency programs; and preferential recruitment for UT medical graduates.
"Northwest Ohio is really below the state average in terms of retaining physicians and residency slots," Gardner said. "I don't think we are behind in quality but we are behind in the kind of numbers that provide better access to health care."
Perhaps not a direct result from the recommendations, Gold said the increase in graduates continuing their education through residencies in the area has benefited from collaboration between UT and various medical systems, which is a recommendation made by the commission.
"This university has well over a dozen major partnerships with hospitals," he said, including ProMedica and Mercy and St. Luke's health systems.
Making partnerships a win-win situation for both the university and health care providers is key in success of establishing residency programs. A "win-win" situation occurs when a hospital system is dedicated to the principles of academic medicine and recognize the need to educate the next generation of physicians, Gold explained. But also, a two-fold benefit is that health systems can also stay up on the latest health care practices in having newly educated graduates among their ranks.
"It is really willing minds and willing leaders in the health care field coming together for the good of the community," Gardner said. "The commission made some progress, but for the most part, the commission was not able to wrestle that problem to the ground. It's still there."

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