Rural Residency Program to benefit Carroll County

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

FAYETTEVILLE — A $750,000 federal grant will allow the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and local hospitals to develop a rural training track (RTT) for its family medicine residency program so it can graduate up to four additional medical residents a year.

The RTT will be connected to the long-standing UAMS family medicine residency in Northwest Arkansas and build on partnerships with Washington Regional Medical Center and Mercy Hospital.

Residents in the program will complete their first year at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville and spend the majority of years two and three in Carroll County at Mercy-Berryville Hospital and rural Washington Regional and Mercy family practice clinics.

The Rural Residency Planning and Development grant is from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The first two years will be spent designing the RTT and obtaining accreditation. After an accreditation process, the first group of residents will start the program in July 2023.

Ronald Brimberry, M.D., will serve as program director. Brimberry served as interim director of the current family medicine residency program for one year, and as core faculty in the program for 20 years. He is a graduate of UAMS (both medical school and residency) and has taught medical students and residents since 1984.

“This program is to help recruit and retain well-trained family physicians who will understand the needs of people in rural Arkansas communities and encourage these new family physicians to stay and practice in those rural communities,” Brimberry said. “We are very excited to have been awarded this federal HRSA rural residency development grant to get started on a new, fully accredited RTT opportunity for family medicine residency training.”

Due to a long-standing federal cap on funding to add resident training slots, the UAMS family medicine residency program has not been able to grow to meet the needs of Northwest Arkansas for training and retaining family physicians in the region for many years.

The HRSA grant will help alleviate that long-standing problem, and is in keeping with a plan developed by the Northwest Arkansas Council to expand graduate medical education training programs in the region.

“This program will not only increase the number of residents in the state overall, it will increase the number of doctors in rural areas of the state,” said David Ratcliff, chief medical officer at Washington Regional Medical Center. “This will reduce workforce shortages overall and increase access to care for all Arkansans.”

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