The Plateau Post

Match Day: New Residents Begin July 2021

We are excited to welcome four family medicine residents and two pharmacy residents to the premier family & community medicine and pharmacy residency programs in the region. Our residents will gain primary care experience in a variety of settings from rural to frontier northern Arizona.

The family medicine residency, which is based at North Country HealthCare in Flagstaff, currently has four residents, making for a total of eight first- and second-year resident doctors starting in July. Every year, North Country HealthCare’s pharmacy team trains two residents in the community-based residency program. Residents train in clinical program development, teaching and research projects. Both programs’ leaders announced the new residents at a Match Day Zoom event at noon on March 24, to an audience of local healthcare providers and stakeholders.

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PGY1 Community Pharmacy Residency

The PGY1 Community Pharmacy Residency at North Country HealthCare is a 12-month, full-time program that provides an in-depth experience in the broad area of pharmacy practice in a primary care setting. Because North Country is a Federally Qualified Health Center, residents are given the opportunity to work with underserved patients.

The purpose of the residency is to train pharmacists who can enhance clinical services in the community and outpatient care settings. Residents work in a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) with medical providers, mental health providers, case managers and community health workers to provide whole-person care.

Congratulations to our new pharmacy residents:

  • Beth Stalker, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
  • Julia Goodin, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy

The NARBHA Institute Family & Community Medicine Program

The family medicine residency, officially called The NARBHA Institute Family & Community Medicine Program, launched July 2020. Residents have rotations throughout North Country HealthCare’s service region of Coconino, Mohave, Navajo and Apache Counties. The program also has required rural rotations in Tuba City, Polacca and Whiteriver, making it the only graduate medical education program in the country with required rotations in Indian Country.

Congratulations to our new family medicine residents:

  • Tyler Hanny, Midwestern University
  • Erinn Gallagher, A. T. Still University – Flagstaff Campus
  • Rachel Christopherson, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • Jeff Quick, Midwestern University

The Physician Shortage is Dire

Right now Arizona needs an additional 605 primary care physicians to address its shortage of health professionals, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.  In fact, Arizona is ranked 38th in the nation in the number of primary care providers per 100,000 population. Not having access to a primary care provider makes routine check-ups and ongoing care difficult to obtain, and it has a negative impact on the quality of life of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities.

Access to care is especially dire in Arizona’s rural, frontier and Native American communities, where the population to provider ratio is 3,896:1. HRSA considers an area to be over-utilized if it has a population to provider ratio of 2000:1 or greater.

North Country HealthCare Making a Difference

One of the most impactful ways to increase the number of doctors in an area is to teach and train doctors in the communities of greatest need. Research suggests that physicians are more likely to practice where they train, which highlights the importance of training residents in rural northern Arizona.

“This is why we launched the family medicine residency program,” states Anne Newland, MD, MPH, CEO of North Country HealthCare. “We need more primary care physicians in our region of the state, especially in the most isolated rural areas. Northern Arizona’s communities deserve to have access to the highest quality family practice physicians available; in short, we have no choice but to ‘grow our own.’”

Positive Economic Impact

Recently, North Country HealthCare and the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) commissioned an economic impact study to ascertain how a family medicine residency program would affect the economy and patient access to care. The result of the independent economic-impact study, shows “significant positive economic impact” to the state and expanded patient access to care over the next ten years.

The study, prepared by Rounds Consulting Group, Inc., shows that increasing the number of physician residents at North Country HealthCare alone will result in 136 high-paying jobs and $151.7 million in economic output for northern Arizona over a ten-year period.

Community Collaboration is Key

A residency program belongs to the community; it’s an investment in the community’s future. North Country HealthCare has established key partnerships and affiliations throughout northern Arizona. The NARBHA Institute has provided $3 million over five years to support the residency program, and the Arizona legislature appropriated $750,000 in 2019 to support the program. Affiliated training sites include Flagstaff Medical Center, Hopi Health Care Center, Kingman Regional Medical Center, Little Colorado Medical Center, Tuba City Regional Health Care, Whiteriver Indian Hospital, and Winslow Indian Health Care Center.

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