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Charlotte Hungerford Hosts Innovative Residency Program

July 22, 2022

With an increased need for primary care doctors and psychiatrists, especially in rural areas, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital recently hosted a visit from the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University to finalize details of an innovative residency program designed to bolster the healthcare workforce of tomorrow.

As part of an overall partnership with Hartford HealthCare, CHH will be involved in the Behavioral Health Network rural training track psychiatry program and a rural family medicine training program.

“There is such a demand for both psychiatry and primary care,” said John Capobianco, senior vice president, Northwest Region.

He explained primary care physicians are an aging population, with 50 percent of physicians at age 57 or older. There is a shortage of primary care physicians both nationally and regionally.

“It is such a good opportunity to get new people into the career path, and expose them to a rural family medicine program,” Capobianco said.

The program will be based through St. Vincent’s Medical Center, which is the primary teaching affiliate for Quinnipiac and serves as the urban training site. They expect to welcome the first residents in July 2024.

“It also exposes our physicians and clinical staff to students, it is a game changer having medical students and bringing the opportunity for more research in the community settings,” Capobianco said. “In addition, it exposes students to a community hospital with the potential for future recruitment.”

“Having residents and students on our campus raises everyone’s game. It helps providers stay up to date on current practice changes and in the end enhances the quality of care we deliver to the community,” said Paul Scalise, MD, vice president for medical affairs.

The third hospital involved in the program is Northern Maine Medical Center, but it will not offer the psychiatry residency at that location.

The psychiatry residency program is being developed by Remy Sirken, MD, along with the rest of the SVMC department, supervised by Andre Newfield, MD, chair of psychiatry at SVMC. Dr. Sirken, a past graduate of the HHC residency program, has been focusing on curriculum development and engaging with future faculty members and working on applications necessary for official accreditation.

The residency program is part of a concerted effort bring specialty mental health care closer to home for patients and make a dent in a national shortage of psychiatrists. The four-year residency program, which will be one of just three in the state, will be open to four new medical school graduates, enrolling four each year for an eventual total of 16 residents.

Charlotte Hungerford Hospital will be the primary training site for the program and where residents will work in an outpatient psychiatric setting in their third and fourth years of training. In the program’s first and second years, residents will receive training in inpatient, emergency and consultation psychiatry, as well as neurology, at SVMC.

Capobianco said he is excited about the training opportunities for psychiatry as well. “We have inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization programs, addiction services, a diverse population with ages children to adults, it offers a great opportunity to be exposed to rural psychiatric care on all levels, we have a robust program,” he said.

These clinical opportunities will provide a critical pipeline of potential new colleagues during a very challenging time for recruitment. The Netter School of Medicine currently sponsors internal medicine and radiology residency program based at SVMC.