Northwest Health Fall 2012

Becoming a Physician

Our Family Medicine Residency program trains the next generation.

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When Lynne Sullivan looked at medical residency programs in 2008, she put Group Health at the top of the list. "I was looking for a program where I could train in the medical home model," says Dr. Sullivan, referring to the patient-centered approach to care that's being adopted by more and more health systems. "When I interviewed, there were a few programs that were talking about medical home, but it was always in the future tense. At Group Health, it was already a reality and it was successful."

Dr. Sullivan is typical of the type of medical student attracted to Group Health, says Carl Morris, MD, director of the Group Health Family Medicine Residency located at our Capitol Hill Campus in Seattle. "They want to be part of the solution for health care, and are looking for a care approach that will be a solution," he says. "Medical home is a model for health care reform, and Group Health is five to seven years ahead of most of the country. Our residents are learning the tools they will need to practice the family medicine of tomorrow."

Serving residents and patients. Dr. Sullivan graduated from Group Health's Family Medicine Residency program in June, joining more than 180 doctors trained since the program was founded in 1969.

Team Care Is Program Focus

Residents spend three years doing rotations in a wide variety of medical specialties, including pediatrics, obstetrics, internal medicine, and many more. But the core of the program is caring for the group of patients assigned to the resident when they enter the program.

"They learn how to care for these patients in a team care setting," says Dr. Morris. That team — which typically includes a medical assistant, nurses, a physician assistant, pharmacist, and social worker — provides continuity for patients when a resident finishes the program and a new resident takes the place of the one who has graduated. "We have patients who ask to be assigned to residents," says Dr. Morris. "They see it as their responsibility to help train the next generation of doctors."

Physician Teachers

Behind all residents is a faculty member — a seasoned physician such as Michael Madwed, MD. Many faculty members find that teaching helps keep them fresh. "You are constantly thinking about what you're doing and new ways of doing it," says Dr. Madwed. He's also an example of another aspect of the program: residents trained by Group Health who stay here after graduation and make significant contributions to the organization. Dr. Madwed, for instance, is founder of Group Health's Teen Pregnancy and Parenting Clinic and the chief of our Rainier clinic in Seattle. Many other physician leaders at Group Health were also once residents in the program.

Dr. Sullivan may eventually be one of those Group Health leaders since she has chosen to continue her medical career here. "At Group Health, I've seen how health care can work. I just can't picture a career anywhere else." 

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