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Residency program trains tomorrow’s family physicians

January 18, 2011
Many of us rely more on our family doctor than on any other healthcare provider. But these physicians who provide our “medical home” are in short supply. Currently only five percent of new doctors in the U.S. pursue family medicine. Things are different at St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency Program where applications have increased 90 percent in six years.

“St. Mary’s residents are trained to meet the challenges of providing care in rural areas and small towns,” explains Sherman Straw, MD, director of the residency program. More than half of St. Mary’s graduates stay in Colorado to practice, 60 percent in towns with fewer than 5,000 people.

Even during their training, resident physicians are helping take care of the people of western Colorado, Straw says. They care for many hospitalized patients, provide ‘round-the-clock coverage in Labor and Delivery, and work in the emergency department. “The residents also take care of patients in our clinic, St. Mary’s Family Medicine Center,” Straw says. St. Mary’s has trained 177 family physicians since the three-year program began in 1977, and 24 are currently enrolled.

St. Mary’s resident named Colorado Resident of the Year
Toby Long, MD, a third-year resident of St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency Program, has been recognized as the Outstanding Family Medicine Resident for 2011 by the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians. Long’s work increasing staffing for the outreach clinic for Grand Junction’s homeless was cited as one example of his dedication to bringing care to those who are medically underserved.