East Alabama Medical Center has started an Internal Medicine Residency Program in hopes of attracting more physicians to the Auburn-Opelika community.
The 10 residents who are part of the inaugural group hail from different parts of the state and country. They were selected on March 19 — National “Match Day” — and will begin orientation June 21, followed by clinical work starting July 1, according to a news release from EAMC.
Dr. Steven Presley, program director, said EAMC started the three-year program because Auburn-Opelika is one of the fastest-growing regions in the state. Physicians are also more likely to stay and practice medicine in the area where they received their residency training.
“Our population is growing so we’re in need of continuing to train and recruit more physicians,” Presley said. “Our thought was that if we can go ahead and get our program up and running and capture some of those new physicians in training, they would be more likely to stay and open up practice and remain in the Auburn-Opelika area rather than us having to recruit them in four or five years from more metropolitan regions.”
Presley said the easiest way to describe internal medicine is “healthcare or medicine for adults.”
“If you think of a pediatrician, they’re providing healthcare for patients 17 and below. We’re providing healthcare for patients 18 and above,” Presley said.
Internal medicine physicians are also known as “internists.” Following residency training, internists can become primary care physicians or hospital-based physicians known as “hospitalists.”
Some continue on with subspecialty training or “fellowships” that focus on a certain area of internal medicine, such as cardiology or pulmonology.
Presley said it’s important people recognize that the residents are already physicians who finished medical school and are undergoing continued training to become board certified in internal medicine.
As part of the teaching program, the residents will provide inpatient care at EAMC and establish the East Alabama Health Internal Medicine Clinic at 1527 Professional Parkway, which will provide outpatient primary care.
The clinic, which is slated to open Sept. 14, will be located in the building that currently houses EAMC’s Diagnostic Imaging services. Auburn Diagnostic Imaging (ADI) is currently at 1527 Professional Parkway. Most of its services will be moving to the new Auburn Medical Pavilion (900 Camp Auburn Road) in the Auburn Research Park in time for the opening of the Freestanding Emergency Department in June.
“When all of that is cleared out, that building will be transitioned and we will establish the residency clinic there,” he said.
Presley wants to give the residents a “personalized education.”
For example, if a resident is interested in becoming a primary care physician, program organizers will try to craft their educational experience around the needs of that particular job. That includes pairing the resident with primary care physicians who are open to being mentors.
“We’ll have different physicians in the area that are interested in helping train residents and we’ll match the residents with those particular physicians,” Presley said. “They’ll actually be seeing patients under the authority of the physician mentor.”
“The way that physicians learn to do a better job is to have an experienced physician showing them the ropes,” Presley added.
Program organizers hope the residents will pursue different professional paths, with some becoming primary care physicians and others hospitalists and sub-specialists to add to the variety of medical care in the area.
“We want to train those resident physicians to help them be lifelong learners and give back in whatever community they serve,” Presley said. “We just want to really create excellent physicians so that they pass on the good things that they’ve learned here.”
For more information on the program visit: https://www.eamc.org/news-and-media/eamc-welcomes-inaugural-internal-medicine-residents