BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Wellmont Health System’s commitment to train physicians who enhance patient care in rural areas continues to bolster the quality of life locally and in other smaller-population communities across the country.
Recently, three osteopathic physicians graduated from the family medicine residency program created by Wellmont in Southwest Virginia. They were honored at a ceremony at Mountain Empire Community College along with another osteopathic physician who will complete her residency in early 2014.
The graduates are Drs. Addison Ward, Derek Harman and Dennie Bryant. Dr. Tracy Boschee will complete her training in early February.
“This is our second graduating class, and it reflects a growing presence of talented, young physicians who have honed their medical skills in a rural setting and used their growing knowledge to improve patients’ lives,” said David Brash, Wellmont’s senior vice president of business development and rural strategy. “This program is fulfilling our goal to increase the level of physician care in Southwest Virginia and other rural communities.”
The residency program was formed in 2009 with the Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine as the academic sponsor. It first began accepting physicians in 2010, and four of them have now graduated.
Dr. Aaron Porter, another osteopathic family medicine physician, graduated in 2012 and established a practice with Wellmont Medical Associates in Norton. He and Dr. Harman were the first physicians to enter the residency program.
Dr. Ward is also starting a practice with Wellmont Medical Associates at the Norton Commons and will begin seeing patients Aug. 1. Dr. Harman will return to his home state of West Virginia, while Dr. Bryant has been accepted for a prestigious geriatrics fellowship in New Jersey. Dr. Boschee will return to her home region in North Dakota to establish a rural practice.
“It is gratifying to know that some of our physicians have come to Southwest Virginia for training and concluded it would be an excellent location to develop new roots and start a practice,” said Dr. Maurice Nida, Wellmont’s director of osteopathic graduate medical education. “But we are also pleased the others, who have received training from our expert physicians, will be helping different communities with a care philosophy influenced by their experience here.”
About 15 other physicians are still completing their residency in this program, and more will be joining later this summer. Wellmont and LMU-DCOM have the ability to enroll as many as 24 physicians at a time in the residency program.
Helping Dr. Nida direct the program is Dr. Thomas Roatsey, who serves as the osteopathic family medicine residency program director. Both of them are osteopathic physicians.
The family medicine residency lasts three years, but some physicians in the Wellmont program, such as Dr. Porter, Dr. Ward and Dr. Bryant, completed a year of residency elsewhere before coming here.
During their time in the region, the medical residents have delivered care at Mountain View Regional Medical Center, Lonesome Pine Hospital and Lee Regional Medical Center. They have also received some of their specialty rotation training at Holston Valley Medical Center and Bristol Regional Medical Center in Tennessee.
When they are not helping patients in the hospitals under the tutelage of a team of experienced physicians, these residents treat patients at the innovative Wellmont Osteopathic Family Medicine Residency Clinic at 295 Wharton Lane, Norton.
“We have achieved impressive results with this program and are excited we are adding to the ranks of physicians who are opening practices in Southwest Virginia and other rural communities,” Brash said. “That is important, as some of our long-standing physicians who have been integral in delivering compassionate care are nearing retirement.
“This residency program is still in its early stages, and we look forward to accomplishing even more for our region in the coming years. But as we reflect on our first three years, residents of Southwest Virginia can be proud that we are meeting their healthcare needs.”