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Marshall University to establish rural residency program for internal medicine

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A new grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) will support the planning and development of a three-year rural internal medicine residency program at Holzer Health System in Gallipolis, Ohio, in collaboration with the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

The new three-year, $750,000 grant to the Marshall Community Health Consortium, composed of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall Health, Cabell Huntington Hospital and Valley Health Systems, will focus on creating a pipeline of primary care physicians trained specifically to care for patients in rural communities. The number of primary care physicians in Appalachia is 21% below the national average. That rate jumps to 40% below the national average in distressed Appalachian counties, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“Marshall is a national leader in rural health, a role we could not fulfill without engaged healthcare and hospital partners,” said Paulette S. Wehner, M.D., vice dean of graduate medical education at the School of Medicine. “Since first partnering with Holzer to establish a family medicine residency in 2017 and successfully launching two other rural residency programs at Logan Regional Medical Center and Rivers Health, we look forward to using our expertise to build a rural internal medicine residency that will provide a high-caliber training experience and retain graduates to serve as primary care physicians for our area.”

“I am thrilled to hear that Marshall University will be adding an internal medicine residency program to their already robust selection of residency programs. Rural residency programs specifically train physicians to care for patients in rural communities, which are chronically underserved. A core goal of mine in Congress is to improve health outcomes for rural patients and bolster our rural health care workforce—and this program will help to advance both of those goals,” said Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-WV.

As part of separate rural accreditation designation requirements, the internal medicine residents will conduct their first year of training in Huntington and their final two years at Holzer Health System, located 42 miles north of Huntington in southeast Ohio. This model allows trainees to learn firsthand how to address health care barriers in rural communities and treat a wide range of conditions they will experience in practice.

The consortium will work toward achieving initial accreditation in 2025 and welcoming its first residents in July 2026. Stephen A. Roy, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, will serve as the residency program director, and Holzer physician Jennifer Calafato, D.O., has been appointed as Holzer’s associate rural program director.

In addition to curriculum and program development, the grant will also support expansion of the family medicine residency suite at Holzer and additional simulation equipment. The internal medicine program will be Marshall’s third rural health residency, including the nation’s first separately accredited rural surgery residency, and the fourth program sponsored by the Consortium. For more information, please contact the Office of Graduate Medical Education at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at 304-691-1823.

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