HATTIESBURG — The way Dr. Sherry Turner has it figured, familiarity in fact breeds contentment and a certain comfort level.
That’s at least part of the reason that Merit Health Wesley has plans to roll out a pair of residency programs in July that once fully-operational will engage 34 up-and-coming physicians annually.
And those who train in Hattiesburg may be more inclined to remain in Hattiesburg.
“What happens when they leave, it gives Mississippi and the area another wealth of physicians to choose from, who are vested in being here and have been educated in this area,” said Turner, Wesley’s emergency room medical director who also serves as the hospital’s director of graduate medicine.
“Resident students who have both been educated in a state and done a residency in a state, almost 80 percent of them remain in that state to have their practice there.”
Wesley received the green light this month to initiate an internal medicine residency under the supervision of Dr. Kurt Bruckmeier. The hospital also has received a verbal nod to establish a four-year emergency medicine residency under Turner’s supervision.
Each program is expected to welcome two interns during the first year.
The internal medicine program has plans to ramp up to six residents annually, who will rotate through the three-year program. The emergency medicine program is structured to accept up to four residents, who will work through a four-year program.
When completed, residents will have attained board eligibility, which means they have completed the educational/practical aspects of their training, leaving them with a final test for board certification.
“We continue to grow the services we offer our patients and our community,” Wesley Chief Executive Officer Michael Neuendorf said. “Introducing these new residency programs allows us to serve another population of up-and-coming physicians.
“We’re honored to have the opportunity to train these physicians and allowing them to contribute to our community as well.”
Bruckmeier, an internal medicine physician, said the residency programs should be a win-win for Wesley.
“We get the extra labor, and they get to see what we can do here,” said Bruckmeier, who designed the internal medicine residency track. “If we want to recruit somebody, then these folks could possibly have a leg up. If we think they’re good enough and we want to have them, they’ve already worked here.
“They know our system. They know our patients. They know everything about us by the time they finish training.”
Neuendorf said Wesley collaborated with William Carey University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine to create the programs.
“The leaders of William Carey University, from top to bottom, have been wonderful to work with,” he said. “We had had some discussions about having residencies here, and just having that kind of program so close, with the wealth of knowledge that Dr. Sherry Turner and Dr. Jim Turner have brought to the table to assist us in the decision-making, I can’t say thank you enough.”
Sherry Turner said conversations about the residencies began about three years and picked up steam this year.
She said with an impending merger of medical accrediting bodies and the recent rebranding of Wesley to include the Merit Health tag, the time seemed appropriate to roll with the residencies.
“There was some benefit to go ahead and start it now,” she said. “With the name change and some of the other processes within the hospital, it was determined that the time was right to go with graduate medical education here.”