St. Luke’s Health-Memorial Lufkin, in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine, has established the college’s first rural health residency program and is welcoming the first set of residents.
The program offers the opportunity for urban and rural hospitals, as well as non-hospital clinical settings, to train residents in rural areas and can help increase access to primary care in rural and underserved areas.
Other program partners include Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital.
“The opportunity to partner with Baylor College of Medicine in training physicians in our East Texas market will have a generational impact on the communities we serve,” said Monte Bostwick, market chief executive officer and president of St. Luke’s Health-Memorial Hospital.
“The physician needs in this rural part of our state are significant and this program, as an extension of the St. Luke’s Health ministry to address health inequities, will serve as the foundation toward addressing those needs. While not every physician we train will stay in East Texas, we are confident that many will. As such, our communities will benefit from improved access and care throughout the area for many years to come.”
Residents of the new graduate medical education Family Medicine Residency Program will train at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Texas Medical Center, Texas Children’s Hospital Pavilion for Women, Texas Children’s The Woodlands and St. Luke’s Health-Memorial Hospital in Lufkin. The first year of training will take place in Houston and the last two years will focus on the care of the underserved and vulnerable population of Lufkin and surrounding East Texas communities. The program will accept three residents each year; the inaugural group started in July 2022.
“The program allows residents to recognize the unique challenges of caring for patients in rural areas, juxtaposed with those seen in the urban setting during their first year of training,” said Dr. Eric Warwick, interim program director for the rural health residency program and associate professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
“Residents will undergo an enriching academic and clinical learning experience facilitated and supervised by dedicated faculty with extensive knowledge and experience caring for patients of this rural community. By the end of their training, residents will achieve mastery in caring for the underserved and under-resourced communities and develop innovative strategies to overcome barriers and challenges unique to caring for the rural population.”
Dr. John Oglesbee, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group, will be the local associate program director. He has been in rural practice since 1986 at the critical access hospital St. Luke’s Health-Memorial in San Augustine. Oglesbee will provide oversight of the educational experiences for the residents, ensure the quality of their inpatient care and help teach during clinical rotations.
“This is an exciting time for East Texas and our hospital in particular,’’ he said. ‘‘Becoming a training hospital is an honor and a compliment to the quality of care we give our patients every day through this ministry.’’
The program’s first three residents for East Texas are: Ivonne Boeta, Techologico de Monterrey Escuela de Medicina, Mexico; Karla Gonzales, University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic; and Dorcas Omari University of Nairobi School of Medicine. Upon completion of their training in Houston, the residents are scheduled to begin their GME work in East Texas in July 2023.
“Baylor College of Medicine is delighted to partner with St. Luke’s Health and its integrated delivery network to establish their first rural residency training program in family medicine in the St. Luke’s Health East Texas market,” said Dr. Ashok Balasubramanyam, vice president of academic integration at Baylor College of Medicine and chief academic officer at St. Luke’s Health.
“We are proud to collaborate in training the best and brightest physicians to expand much-needed health care in this region of East Texas. The success of this program in filling all of its training positions in its inaugural year is tremendously exciting to the staff and faculty physicians at Lufkin and the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine’s outstanding family medicine residency program who have worked hard to make this happen.”
The new East Texas residency program is funded in part by the T.L.L. Temple Foundation and the Mary K. and Clifford Grum Foundation.