Over the last three years, some of the nation’s top medical residents have had the unique opportunity to gain emergency medical experience at Methodist Hospitals’ Northlake Campus in Gary as part of a five-year agreement with Northwestern University.
“Methodist Hospitals have a long history of medical education for all sorts of healthcare workers,” Dr. Geoffrey Bauer, Medical Director of Northwestern Residency Program and attending physician who coordinates the program for Methodists’ Northlake Emergency Department and is on the medical staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as well, said. “They are committed to investing in developing the people who are taking care of everybody else. The overwhelming success of this program – which serves as a direct pipeline for the ER – is a great example.”
A graduate of Northwestern’s Emergency Medicine Program, Dr. Bauer helped forge the partnership between Methodist and Northwestern, which brings an average of more than 30 post-graduate residents to the Northlake ER for rotations each year, after learning about the opportunity at a national conference four years ago.
“I ran into the program director from my residency at Northwestern,” he explained. “She told me about their current situation, and I shared my thoughts on the valuable teaching experience we could offer at Methodist, in a community setting. It’s a very different environment than Northwestern Memorial. The vast majority of doctors in our country take care of patients like we do at Methodist. It’s an academic learning center versus where most people end up.”
Using data captured in 2011, US News & World Report recently ranked Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine - where Emergency Medicine is one the most popular residency and specialty programs – as a top Graduate School for Medical Research. The Feinberg School, in affiliation with the member hospitals of the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, offers a total of 80 fully-accredited residency and fellowship programs in surgical and medical specialties.
A consortium of urban, suburban, specialized and general hospitals, the McGaw Medical Center offers a greater range of clinical and research experience than an individual teaching hospital can provide, with staffing by many nationally prominent physicians and scientists who consider teaching a primary goal. Emergency Medicine residents are based in downtown Chicago at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and their training is complemented with experiences at Methodist Hospitals’ Northlake Campus in Indiana as well as the new Lurie Children’s Hospital, Lake Forest Hospital and Cook County Hospital in Illinois. This combination of hospitals provides residents with a diverse range of patient types, illnesses and facilities.
“I came to Methodist in the final year of my residency, which was the first year of the partnership,” Dr. Cynthia Galvan, who accepted a full-time position in the Methodist ER after graduation, said. “I think a community site is an excellent find for the residents. There’s a stark difference in the patient population. Many people in the City of Gary are low resource, and you are training to care for the sickest of the sick. I’ve been a doctor here for two years now, and I can say that everyone who is here is here because they want to help the people. We are motivated to work together and stay positive so we can do the right things for our patients. Plus, I love working with the residents and shaping young minds.”
One of the major benefits for residents at Methodist is the fact that the attending physicians are able to give them more responsibility over time as they demonstrate the ability to act independently. They also discover the importance of working in tandem with a dedicated staff of community hospital nurses at Methodist. After all, these doctors-in-training are making the transition from working under someone’s supervision to working on their own with full credentials.
“Methodist is a real asset to our program,” Ted Elsaesser, who is in the second year of his Northwestern Emergency Medicine residency and new to Methodist, said. “It’s a phenomenal experience for a number of different reasons - from the varied patient population to the broad spectrum of pathology. I can already tell that it’s going to be a great hospital to work at, and I’m looking forward to working with this close-knit team.”
“It’s an extremely popular experience for the residents,” Dr. Bauer explained. “Since the partnership has been in place, we are hearing more often that students are choosing Northwestern for their residency because of the relationship here. They know they will have the opportunity to see and do things here that they may not have in an academic setting where a number of residents can be assigned to different aspects of the same case. Here, there’s one resident working cases from start to finish.”
Like Drs. Bauer and Galvan, many graduates from Northwestern’s Emergency Medicine Program are in teaching positions.
“The Northwestern partnership gives Methodist a leg up when it comes to hiring and retaining physicians who are genuinely interested in staying engaged in the day-to-day practice of medicine – the residents are constantly challenging us. It’s a collaborative process and ideas can flow both ways,” Dr. Bauer added.
“It also gives us the ability to see more people quickly and provide more attention to our patients who typically receive twice the input on their medical care with two sets of eyes and ears focused on their case. It’s a great mixture of the more experienced clinician combined with the enthusiasm and newest, most cutting-edge ideas from the residents. Plus, anything you can do to reduce wait times always helps.”
“That’s why everyone likes being affiliated with academic medicine,” Medical Director of the Emergency Medicine Department for Methodist Hospitals, Mike McGee, MD, said. “The quality of care and thoroughness of having two doctors makes patients feel they are receiving great customer service.”
With the Methodist-Northwestern partnership successful from all standpoints, there has been increased interest in residency programs at Methodist. Look for them to expand their presence as an academic institution next year with the development of the Methodist Family Practice Residency Program, which will be affiliated with Indiana University and is scheduled to start in July, according to Dr. McGee.
Courtesy of the Times.