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Release: Immediate

Pella selected as site for UI medical college's Rural Track Residency Program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Pella has been selected as the site of the University of Iowa College of Medicine's Rural Track Family Practice Residency Program, an initiative that will help train physicians interested in practicing in rural communities.

Pella was chosen from among a half dozen select sites across Iowa to serve as a base for the program. The effort will involve collaboration between Pella Regional Health Center (PRHC), the UI department of family medicine and local physicians, led by Dr. Larry Severidt, a family physician in Pella who will serve as the local residency coordinator.

"The health center board is pleased with the UI's selection of Pella," said Paul Hietbrink, chairman of the board of trustees at PRHC. "Our medical staff enjoys teaching students and residents. The constant presence of medical education at our center will help us maintain high standards of care that will ultimately benefit our patients."

The program first must be accredited by a national review committee before it can get under way. The program's sponsors have begun that process.

"Once approved, this small training program could serve as a model for the development of similar programs elsewhere in rural Iowa," said Dr. Gerald Jogerst, UI assistant professor and interim head of family medicine. "For other rural sites, the hub might be our department's residency or any one of the college's seven affiliated family practice residencies across Iowa."

Medical residencies are advanced training programs that typically follow medical school graduation. Under this new program, which could begin in 2000 or sooner, two medical school graduates will spend their first year of training at the UI and the next two years in Pella. As family practice residents they will see patients and work closely with Severidt at his family practice office in Pella. They also will receive training and educational support at the PRHC from other local physicians and from specialists--such as cardiologists, oncologists and orthopaedic surgeons--who come to Pella regularly to see patients in the hospital's outpatient clinics.

"The training the residents in Pella will receive can be described as a longitudinal experience," said Dr. Robert Garrett, UI associate clinical professor of family practice and program director of the UI Family Practice Residency, who helped develop the Pella residency curriculum. "Typically, family practice residents go through specific, one- and two-month clinical rotations as part of their training. With this program, however, residents will work with family physicians and specialists on a continuous basis over the last two years of their residencies."

In other words, residents will train continuously in a mode much like the practice they will have once their residencies are completed.

"Hospitals in smaller, rural communities do not have as many resources as some medical centers in larger, urban areas, so one of the keys to this program will be to teach residents how to effectively use the resources of a rural community health system," Severidt said. "Resident physicians also will gain an understanding of the special health care needs of a rural community. In addition to the standard clinical education a family physician receives, rural track training will emphasize geriatrics, agricultural and occupational medicine, and preventive care. We hope to give the family practice residents an experience that is especially relevant to rural practice."

11/13/98