While the practice of medicine and many aspects of medical residency training may have changed in recent years, one fact has remained constant, according to Andrew Thomas, MD, BA, and associate dean for Graduate Medical Education. “For generations, Ohio State has been known for its ability to turn out physicians from our residency programs who are clinically well trained,” says Thomas, who has overseen Ohio State residency and fellowship programs since 2001. “After the lectures and clinical experiences are over, when physicians come out of our training programs, they are very well-prepared to walk into any medical position or fellowship anywhere in the country and not be intimidated. They have the knowledge and the patient care skills to perform well in any setting,” he adds. Each summer, approximately 200 to 220 newly graduated physicians come to OSU Medical Center to begin training in a multitude of medical specialties and subspecialties. Ohio State offers 53 training programs accredited by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education and another 14 programs that are aligned with other accrediting bodies. In recent years, our residency programs have expanded and Ohio State has seen an increase in the number of residents from non-Midwest and also from Top-25 medical schools. Our Medical Center’s physical growth and increase in patient volume, increases in reputation and research funding, and our enlarged faculty network resulting from additional faculty recruitment are among the reasons for these changes. Unlike medical school, where students rotate through a set curriculum, residency training is more individualized and discipline-specific. “We may have up to 75 or more different curricula being taught by faculty in multiple departments throughout the Medical Center,” says Thomas.
Thomas explains that each discipline runs its own program and has a program director and coordinator who manage the day-to-day activities. “What a pathologist needs to know is different from what an Ob-Gyn needs to know and different still from what a dermatologist needs to know,” he explains. “Yet, there’s also crossover, and a resident in Ob-Gyn may also complete part of his or her training in Internal Medicine or in Emergency Medicine.” Today’s residency training is competency based, which means that physicians must demonstrate proficiency in the services they will provide to future patients. Along with showing that they have clinical competencies, residents must also show they understand the level of professionalism that is expected of them as physicians, the importance of communications with patients and how the healthcare system works so that they may advocate for their patients. While the focus of residency training is on clinical skills, most programs include a measure of clinical or basic science research as well. Surgery residents, for example, take part in a year of research, while Neurosurgery residents typically complete two years of research. After completing their residency programs, which may range from three to seven years, some physicians elect to continue sub-specialty training in a fellowship program. Others go on to private practice, faculty positions, community health care or a variety of other career paths. Each year, approximately one-third of Ohio State’s 650 residents leave, moving on to the next level of their medical practice. Thomas and others who train these physicians are proud of the residents’ achievements. However, the change means that the senior residents, those with the most training and experience, are moving on and will be replaced with less-experienced physicians. New Residents must quickly be oriented to the practice of medicine and to our hospital procedures. “That this all succeeds so well is a credit to the commitment of the program directors and managers in our Medical Center departments who dedicate themselves to the education and training of these individuals,” says Thomas. -- Ginny Halloran, Insight