|October 2010, Issue 8|
If you have return customers, you have a good business. If medical students come back as residents, that is considered the mark of a successful new Family Medicine Teaching Unit (FMTU). In July 2010, the Southlake Regional Health Centre (SRHC) FMTU welcomed back, this time as residents, three learners they taught as medical students.
There are obvious learner draws at Southlake: it is a modern, brand-new, purpose-built 10,000 square foot FMTU. The hospital provides regional tertiary programs to the high-growth community of Newmarket. The location is close to urban and rural locations, so pursuit of leisure activities and travel times to and from city and countryside are pretty good.
By 2014, five years after welcoming their first four residents, Southlake’s FMTU will have graduated 44 Family Medicine residents. From four residents in 2009, they took on seven in 2010; by 2011 there will be 15 new residents and in 2012, 18 more.
Newmarket and its surrounding communities are still underserved, so finding patients for the residents has been easy. Residents maintain a family practice three half days per week throughout their two-year residency.
Hospital rotations supplement the FMTU clinical work. Dr. Paul Cantarutti, the FMTU Residency Site Director says, “It has not been hard to tap into the hospital’s clinical strengths which have translated into excellent teaching opportunities for our residents.”
Residents have had to prove to the hospital’s teachers that their presence as trainees would not significantly impact the speed of service to patients. The teacher’s feedback has been positive. Trainees have been told that their consults are more efficient and that they are helping the teachers, not slowing them down.
“The quality of residents has removed physician reticence and doubt,” says Dan Carriere, the hospital’s Lresident and CEO.
“SRHC is already comparable to a teaching hospital so a teaching agenda is more readily acceptable. It is the logical path and the expectation is there that SRHC becomes a teaching hospital. The formal agenda will address the stakeholder’s threats and issues. The hospital is moving ahead with a plan to recognize and reward teachers.”
At the FMTU, the teaching physicians are responding to resident feedback with innovative programs. Dr. Cantarutti describes one that benefits patients.
“With respect to our gynecology clinic, we realized from resident feedback that our residents were having a wonderful obstetrical experience in the hospital but not a lot of exposure to gynecological issues commonly seen by family doctors. To address this, with the assistance of our gynecology department here at Southlake (special thanks to Dr. Anne Walsh), we decided to set up a gynecology clinic within our FMTU. It takes place once monthly with a staff gynecologist from the hospital and one of our residents and has provided for a marvelous one-to-one learning experience. The referrals come from our patients within the Family Health Team at this point. The referrals are biased toward gynecological procedures (IUD insertions, endometrial biopsies, etc.) such that the resident, with specialist supervision, has an opportunity to become proficient in these procedures. This has required some planning on our part (equipment purchases, scheduling changes, etc.) as well as the participation of our gynecology colleagues. The patients also benefit as this shortens their wait times to see a specialist which can be quite lengthy here in Newmarket.”
Of course, the educational objective for the gynecology clinic is to train future family physicians who will perform these procedures in their own offices, thus improving access to care.
In his understated style, the Chief of Family Medicine at Southlake, Dr. Robert Doherty, simply says, “Our main success is that we made it through the first year.”
Dr. Nancy Merrow, SRHC’s Chief of Staff is a little more expansive, “They haven’t been in business long and they are doing a great job.”
Learn more about the Southlake Regional Health Centre