Northwest Indiana Health Institutions Team with Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest – Gary to Provide Local Residency Opportunities to Local Students - January 26, 2017

Courtesy of PortageLife.com • January 26, 2017

By Taylor Irby

You might remember that back in 2014, there was some talk about a shortage of primary care physicians in Northwest Indiana. While this is still may be the case, we’re here to bring you the good news, as always.

Many of your favorite local health systems and centers have agreed to come together to explore how to train more doctors here at home in Northwest Indiana with possible residency programs at their hospitals.

Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest – Gary (IUSM-NW-G), Community Healthcare System, La Porte Hospital, Methodist Hospitals, Porter Health Care System, Community HealthNet Health Centers, HealthLinc, Inc., Regional Mental Health Center, Porter-Starke Services and Edgewater Systems have signed a letter of intent to create a consortium that would help to increase the number of physicians who will be trained and more likely stay in Northwest Indiana to practice medicine.

“Community Healthcare System looks forward to the opportunity to combine our mission of providing high-quality, compassionate care to patients, with advancing the education of the next generation of physicians,” said Alan Kumar, MD, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Community Healthcare System. “Our entire region will benefit from the consortium and increased access to physicians throughout Northwest Indiana.”

“This is something wonderful for Northwest Indiana,” said Patrick Bankston, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Director IUSM-NW-G. “These are the leading healthcare institutions in our region and they’re coming together to create something new. This is the beginning of established residencies in our area, and they’ll help each other by working together.”

The leaders of healthcare organizations understand the importance of keeping students in Northwest Indiana. The signatures represent a promise from leading health care providers in the region to create and apply for residency positions in their organizations. Also, the consortium can apply for newly created state startup funding for those positions, a milestone that IUSM-NW-G Associate Dean and Director Patrick Bankston, Ph.D. expects to see happen sometime this spring.

“Residency programs are a mission and goal of our board and medical staff, and we know it will raise the quality of care in our community as well as the number of physicians in Northwest Indiana, and for that, we are very excited,” said Ashley Dickinson, Chief Operating Officer of Porter Health Care System.

The consortium is important because one of its goals is to attract patients to seek care with IUSM-NW-G residents, instead of Chicago University medical centers. These health systems are consciously supporting Indiana economy for all of us.

“La Porte Hospital is excited to be involved with the consortium because we hope it will help bring new doctors to the area and open up opportunities for us to recruit doctors as well. We are very excited about that possibility,” said Gigi Fergus, Interim CEO of La Porte Hospital.

Another issue for Indiana is a shortage of psychological care, and the consortium will alleviate that as well.

“Especially in psychiatry, we have a shortage,” Rocco Schiralli, CEO of Porter-Starke Services explained. “This will be an opportunity to bring candidates who will remain in Northwest Indiana. It’s good to see this consortium of multiple health organizations that recognize that there are problems and a need for collaboration.”

The students who may benefit from these partnerships could not be more grateful.

Habiba Chaudhry is a second-year medical student. Her time as an undergrad at Indiana University Northwest taught her how to study and has developed her level of discipline that will make her a great doctor.

“I’ve lived here in Northwest Indiana my entire life. I’ve completed undergrad here, and I’m in medical school here. I want to stay here. Doing a local residency will help be build connections here at home, and I’ll get to be involved in my own community. I am so excited for that.”

“I think it’s fantastic that we will have a residency program here. If you’re from Northwest Indiana, it can be so hard to leave and get training without the support of family and your community nearby. Students will really benefit from that,” said Rachelle Ford, a second-year medical student at IUSM-NW-G.

“IUN is a small school and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with professors and get to know people, so my education has become very personal for me. If a residency comes out of those experiences, that would be incredibly amazing!” said Emily Switzer, a fourth-year student at IUSM-NW-G.

What a time to be a medical student at IUN, and it will soon be a great time to be a person seeking medical treatment in Northwest Indiana.

For more information on the Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest – Gary (IUSM-NW-G), click here