CMU College of Medicine to expand residency program

Legislature OKs plan by four Michigan medical schools to expand primary care residency programs through loan forgiveness

| Author: Gary H. Piatek

Central Michigan University's College of Medicine will expand its residency program — led by CMU Medical Education Partners in Saginaw, Michigan — through a collaborative initiative approved by the Michigan Legislature that also will award selected physician graduates up to $75,000 in loan forgiveness.

Terms of the initiative require that physician graduates work in underserved areas of the state for at least two years.

CMU is among four Michigan-based medical schools that collaborated on what's dubbed the MIDOCS plan. It was developed to increase the number of medical residencies in the state — especially in the primary care specialties of family medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology in underserved areas. MIDOCS allows CMU to expand its psychiatry residency program by two positions in 2019.

The $5 million state appropriation for fiscal year 2019 will fund programs at the four participating medical schools that incorporate innovative teaching models such as integrated care, which coordinates general and behavioral health care.

"We applaud the Michigan Legislature and our colleagues at Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University for having the foresight and the will to work together to create this program," said Dr. George Kikano, CMU vice president for health affairs and dean of the CMU College of Medicine.

Debt drives doctors away from primary care

The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the nation will face a shortage of as many as 122,000 physicians by 2030. In Michigan, primary care physicians meet only 63 percent of the need, according to a study by the state Department of Public Health.

Debt often drives new doctors' decisions on where to practice and in which specialty. The AAMC reports that the average medical student's debt has reached nearly $190,000. Because of that debt, many doctors choose higher-paying specialties rather than practicing primary care in underserved areas.

One of the students who will benefit from MIDOCS is soon-to-be CMU College of Medicine graduate Jisselly McGregor of Saginaw, Michigan. During last week's Match Day, she found out she was accepted into her top choice of CMU's residency program in Saginaw.

"I am thrilled to have matched into CMU's residency program and to receive financial support as a result of the new MIDOCS program," she said. "I selected psychiatry because of my passion to provide mental health treatment — particularly for migrant workers and underserved people in the region. My husband is a police officer in Saginaw, and we plan to stay in the area."

Enticement to stay in the community

CMU Medical Education Partners' two associate institutions, Covenant HealthCare and Ascension St. Mary's Hospital, serve as teaching hospitals and are the primary referral hospitals for patients throughout middle and northeastern Michigan. Training also will occur at local federally qualified health centers, including Great Lakes Bay Health Centers.

"MIDOCS will allow us to not only better serve our local communities by adding residencies, but it increases the incentive for our CMU-trained physicians to make a home here and continue to serve for many years," said Mary Jo Wagner, CMU's director of graduate medical education.

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