FLORENCE, S.C. — McLeod Regional Medical Center recently received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration. The funding, awarded over a three-year period, is designed to develop new rural residency programs. McLeod Regional Medical Center, the only grant recipient in the state of South Carolina, will also achieve accreditation of its program through the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The future plans for McLeod to utilize the grant funds include the development of a Family Medicine Residency program in the rural South Carolina communities of Cheraw and Manning. A majority of the physician resident’s time is going to be spent at rural training sites, McLeod Health Cheraw and McLeod Health Clarendon, while the remainder of their time involves training at the existing residency program on the McLeod Regional Medical Center campus located in Florence.
“The plan is for the new program to be integrated with our current McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program,” said Program Director Dr. Gerard Jebaily. “While on the Florence campus, residents will receive clinical training not available in the rural location, as well as education from the faculty in psychology, pharmacy, and oral health care.”
Studies have shown that up to 76 percent of graduates of rural residency programs frequently go on to practice in rural communities. The studies also show that nearly 40 percent of physicians who trained in rural health clinics as residents were still practicing in a rural setting four to eight years after graduation.
“One of the challenges faced by hospitals in rural areas is recruiting physicians — both for work within the hospital and to staff clinics in the outpatient setting,” said Mib Scoggins, vice president, administrator McLeod Health Cheraw. “While rural medicine can be quite challenging, it can also be extremely rewarding because physicians can see how their relationship with their patients truly makes a difference in these patient lives by improving their health.”
The current McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program has achieved the highest regional/rural retention rate of all Family Medicine residencies in South Carolina. Of the 242 residents that have graduated since the program began in 1983, 55 percent continue to practice in the state of South Carolina.
“It is the expectation of this project that a large number of graduates from the McLeod Family Medicine Rural Track Residency Program remain in South Carolina to practice in the underserved communities that so desperately need improved access to primary care,” said Dr. Louis Strauss, project director. “It is also the mission of the McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program to graduate skilled physicians who are committed in caring for patients particularly in rural or underserved areas. This new Residency Program will help further our mission.”
“This is a huge win for our rural communities,” said Jamie Booth, administrator of Graduate Medical Education. “In addition to providing a sustainable pipeline of primary care physicians to support access to care, residency programs connect rural communities to a larger network of academic medicine and resources to support advances in care delivery. Our goal is to implement a collaborative academic training program that encourages a culture of scholarship, research, and continuous quality improvement in rural community hospitals.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to extend the McLeod Family Medicine training program into the Manning community,” said Rachel Gainey, vice president, administrator McLeod Health Clarendon. “This will expand much needed access to physicians, enhance recruitment efforts, and afford physicians the opportunity to practice medicine in a small community setting.”
Pending accreditation, the first class of the McLeod Family Medicine Rural Track Residency Program will begin in 2021.
For more information, visit www.mcleodhealth.org/residency-programs.