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Hero Training via St. Joseph’s Family Medicine Residency Program

Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Family Medicine Residency Program is attracting attention as the demand for physicians – particularly family doctors – increases throughout the country.

Medical school graduates must complete a residency program before they are permitted to work as independent physicians.

St. Joseph’s three-year residency program accepts 21 medical school graduates, with seven in each year of training.

Residents train in various areas of medicine, changing about every four weeks to a different specialty. All of the doctors, however, maintain continuity providing patient care throughout all three years at St. Joseph’s Family and Women’s Center at the Downtown Campus.

“There’s something changing for residents all the time, but the common thread is that they’ll all provide continuity of care in our outpatient family medicine office,” explained Dr. Michael J. Bradley, Director of St. Joseph’s Family Residency Program.

Residency programs such as the one at St. Joseph’s are necessary to a physician’s training.

Responding to a nationwide need for more doctors, medical schools are graduating more physicians. Since residency positions have not increased at the same pace with medical school graduates, there increasingly is a shortage of positions for residents.

To address that problem, national accreditation agencies are working to create a single graduate medical education accreditation system within the United States. The change would enable physicians who hold Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degrees and those who hold Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) to train under a unified system.

There currently are different programs for D.O.s and M.D.s.

“There’s been support to make post-graduate medical training the same for M.D.s and D.O.s, and now we’re at this point where they’ve decided to merge through the Single Accreditation System (SAS),” Bradley said. “There no longer will be two programs.”

All residency programs will need to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and M.D.s and D.O.s will be required to train together with standardized requirements for completion. As an osteopathic accredited program, St. Joseph’s Residency Program currently can accept only those with D.O. degrees.

The move toward a single system is expected to create more residency and fellowship positions for the increased number of graduates.
“There simply aren’t enough residency positions to accommodate all the physicians graduating from medical schools,” Bradley said.

The change is expected to particularly benefit those with D.O. degrees, as, nationwide, there currently are more residency positions for M.D.s than D.O.s.

Residency programs are vital in the training of new doctors, Bradley explained.

“The goal of the residency program is to take a medical school graduate and train them to the point where they can be an independent physician,” he said. “It’s a chance to hone the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired into the ability to effectively treat patients.”

When a resident graduates from St. Joseph’s program, he or she is qualified to begin working or to pursue a fellowship, which provides further training in a specialty.

“We graduate high quality, attending physicians who are able to succeed in various job roles,” said Bradley, who is a 2003 graduate of St. Joseph’s Residency Program and Director since 2012.

St. Joseph’s Family Medicine Residency Program will continue to gain prestige as emphasis on the importance of family doctors increases.
“The family doctor is increasingly being recognized as a leader,” Bradley said. “They really connect with patients, and they have a passion for learning all areas of medicine. We’re turning out heroes here at St. Joe’s.”

Michael Bradley D. O., Director of St. Joseph Family Residency Program If you would like to learn more about the Family Residency Program please contact Dr. Michael Bradley for more information. 610-378-2440 | MBradley1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu

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