Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center received outstanding news that the Medical Center has been granted accreditation by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to develop a Family Medicine Residency Program. The Program, beginning in July 2024, will recruit physicians who have graduated from medical school and give them the opportunity to continue their medical education in order to become board-certified physicians in Family Medicine. The initial class will begin with 4 to 6 residents and mature eventually to 16-18 residents within three years.
Appointed as Southwest Health Designated Institutional Official (DIO) is Lucius M. “Luke” Lampton, MD, FAAFP. A longtime Magnolia family physician and member of the State Board of Health, Dr. Lampton said, “This new residency program will impact our community in transformative ways. Southwest Health will become an academic medical center, which will prove to be critical for the medical development of our institution and our area” and added, “When fully achieved, the program will support 18 resident physicians each year, as well as bring many new faculty to our community. They will live here, eat at our restaurants, attend church with us, and contribute both to the economy and to the quality of everyday life here.”
Resident physicians will provide the same care as physicians who practice here now, including taking medical histories, performing physical and medical examinations, interpret lab results, write prescriptions, and perform medical procedures under the supervision of an attending physician. Residents will be supervised throughout the length of their training by Southwest Health fully licensed board-certified physician faculty.
The three-year training program will consist of rotations in various specialties ensuring residents become familiar with a wide array of medicine. The rotations will be in thirteen 4-week blocks. Residency programs operate on an academic year from July 1 to June 30. Each fall students will apply to programs across the country with interviews beginning in October. Final ranking lists ranked by each program and each student will be submitted for the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The NRMP uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to place applicants into the most preferred residency and fellowship positions at programs that also prefer them.
The residency program will improve access to care throughout the community which was one of the most important factors in pursuing the program for hospital leadership. A critical need for providers in our rural area was identified in the 2021 Mississippi Primary Care and Rural Health Needs Assessment. Residency Program Coordinator Leanne Andrews R.T.(R) said, “Employees Ellen Brannan, RN, and Nancy Smith, began the initial work to gain accreditation and we were awarded two important grants to assist with the program development from applications they completed and submitted in 2019.” COVID-19 delayed progress until the fall of 2021 when Chief Executive Officer, Charla Rowley, asked that we proceed with the accreditation process. Rep. Sam Mims, local legislator who serves as the House Public Health Committee Chair, and Dr. John Mitchell, director of the Office of Mississippi Physician Workforce played pivotal roles assisting in the program’s accreditation. Chief Operating Officer Robert Weathersby, MSN-HCA, RN, is the executive team member overseeing the development of the Program. Dr. J. Keith Speed of Tylertown has been appointed as Program Director and Dr. Kevin Ricks appointed as Associate Program Director. Weathersby said, “We are grateful for our strong relationship with the city of McComb, Pike and Amite Counties and we will work with organizations here to provide additional support to our patients. The residents will, as part of their community service, interact with local school districts, nursing homes, and community centers.”
Incidentally, Residency Program Coordinator Leanne Andrews, R.T. (R) was awarded a scholarship from the Association of Family Medicine Administration to further her residency leadership education. Only two people in the United States received this scholarship. Leaning heavily on peers across the nation she has found mentors who have been inclusive and willing to share all their experience. She began her career at Southwest in March 2000 in Radiology. She said, “This is an incredible opportunity for our hospital and community; we are fully committed to the success of our program.”
Dr. Lampton explained, “The Graduate Medical Education journey required many complicated steps, including a lengthy application which took months to prepare as well as two day-long site visits from the ACGME. A medical institution must have extensive depth of medical specialty to provide the training necessary for a physician residency program. It speaks highly of the caliber of the medical professionals at Southwest to achieve accreditation. We joke that we’ve created a dream team to start this program, but we really do have some extraordinary leaders including Dr. Keith Speed, past Senior Associate Dean of the William Carey College of Osteopathic Medicine, who is our Program Director of the Residency Program, and Leanne, our Residency Coordinator and Administrator.”
Dr. Speed, who has more than 30-years of experience practicing medicine and training medical students, said, “We will be looking for students who have a primary desire to be an excellent family physician, who are caring and compassionate, and have interest in serving rural communities.” Another reason Dr. Speed believes in the success of the program is studies have shown that most physicians will stay and practice within a 1 hour radius of their training site. He said, “For years we have experienced difficulty in recruiting and retaining primary care physicians. This program will allow us to grow our own physicians and keep them.”
Having practiced in a rural community of Southwest Mississippi, Dr. Speed hopes to bring a view of the unique benefits and challenges of practice in a rural community which is far different from practice in more metropolitan communities. He said, “My hope for the program is to train excellent family physicians to care for residents of Southwest Mississippi, the entire state, surrounding Louisiana parishes, the nation, and the world- to know when a physician is asked, ‘Where did you train?’, they answer with pride, Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center!”