BATTLE CREEK, MI – In the coming months, Calhoun County will become a fresh training ground for new physicians following approval by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for a new Family Medicine Residency Program at Bronson Battle Creek.
The Family Medicine Review and Recognition Committee of the ACGME issued the approval for the new program during its most recent meeting, April 26-27. Recruitment of the first class of resident physicians will begin later this year and training of the first class will follow in the summer of 2019.
“This was a pivotal step in our work to enrich this community and improve the quality of life for our patients who call Battle Creek and Calhoun County home,” said Dr. Holli Neiman-Hart, program director for the new Family Medicine residency and an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed).
The new training program is the result of several years of work and collaboration by WMed, Bronson Healthcare and Grace Health to form a new Family Medicine residency in Battle Creek. The medical school also has a Family Medicine residency in Kalamazoo, which boasts 24 physicians-in-training under the leadership of Dr. Glenn Dregansky.
In Battle Creek, six new physicians will be accepted yearly into the three-year curriculum and once the residency is fully operational 18 Family Medicine residents will be practicing in the community at any given time. The new residents will receive training at Bronson Battle Creek and Grace Health, Battle Creek’s federally qualified family health center, will serve as the residency site for outpatient training.
Dr. Peter Chang, President/CEO of Grace Health, said the new Family Medicine residents will be a welcomed addition to Battle Creek and he looks forward to watching their development as physicians and their work to be creators of positive change in the community.
“Our relationship with the community and our patients is one built on trust,” Dr. Chang said. “Our work as leaders in addressing community health issues is vitally important and will be buoyed by the addition of these new physicians-in-training year after year.”
The new residency training program at Bronson Battle Creek got off the ground in 2016 thanks to startup funding – three $1 million grants – from Bronson Healthcare Group, Bronson Battle Creek Hospital Community Partners and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In providing money for the new program, the donors cited the unique opportunity to strengthen healthcare services in Calhoun County and build a stronger local economy.
Dr. Lisa Graves, chair of the medical school’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, said approval of the new residency program by the ACGME is an important milestone in expanding graduate medical education at WMed and the institution’s continued mission to train physicians who serve patients and the medical profession with compassion and dignity.
“Growing a pipeline of competent physicians to meet the needs of not only Calhoun County and Southwest Michigan, but the state and the nation, is extremely important,” Dr. Graves said. “This new residency will play a vital role in doing that.”
Dr. Neiman-Hart said the new residency program will provide residents with broad exposure to the many aspects of family medicine so they are well-prepared family doctors at the end of their training. A key focus for Dr. Neiman-Hart as the leader of the new Family Medicine residency will be the retention of residents once their training has concluded.
Jim McKernan, Chief Operating Officer of Bronson Battle Creek, said he looks forward to welcoming the new residents to the Cereal City in the summer of 2019. He said the residency program will help Bronson Battle Creek to better recruit and retain physicians, bring new jobs and investment to the community and provide much-needed relief in the shortage of primary care doctors in Calhoun County.
“This residency approval is another sign of the positive momentum we are seeing in Battle Creek,” McKernan said. “BC Vision has been focused on education, employment, and vitality. Our residency will connect in all three areas, bringing 18 physicians-in-training plus teaching staff to live, learn and work in our community. All three founding partners are committed to assuring that this is a win for Battle Creek and that the residents will be active participants in the life of our community.”