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New Family Medicine residency program in State College is accredited

The University Park Regional Campus of Penn State College of Medicine has reached a milestone on its mission to help address a shortage of primary care physicians serving central Pennsylvania. A new Family Medicine residency program at the regional medical campus, developed in collaboration with Mount Nittany Medical Center and other State College health care providers, has earned accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

“Our new Family Medicine residency program at the regional medical campus represents the latest step in our ongoing commitment to the importance of primary care,” said Dr. Harold L. Paz, CEO of Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Health System, Penn State's senior vice president for health affairs and dean, Penn State College of Medicine. “Penn State Hershey was the first academic health center in the nation to offer a family medicine residency program, and this new program expands our ability to meet the need for primary care physicians in the years to come.”

Boasting the nation's first Department of Family and Community Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine has historically been recognized as among the foremost suppliers of Pennsylvania's primary care physician workforce. The Family Medicine residency at the Regional Campus is an extension of the Family Medicine residency program of the College of Medicine in Hershey. The three-year program is being developed in conjunction with Mount Nittany Medical Center, as part of its goal to become a regional academic teaching hospital.

“Developing the Family Medicine residency program at Mount Nittany Medical Center will expand access to care for the people that we serve in this community. We are very proud of the achievements that the collaboration with Penn State College of Medicine has achieved in a few short years, and we are excited to welcome the first class of residents to our campus in the coming year,” said Steve Brown, FACHE, president and CEO, Mount Nittany Health.

The first year of the residency focuses on general specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, critical care medicine and pediatrics. First-year residents will also spend a limited amount of time working in an outpatient setting under the supervision of a Penn State Hershey faculty member.

The second and third years involve additional specialty and sub-specialty training and an increasing amount of time with outpatient directed care and electives. Third-year residents also have the opportunity to move into areas of special interest such as research, dual-degree programs with other colleges at Penn State or a rural emphasis with rotations in outlining areas of central Pennsylvania.

The University Park Regional Campus opened in 2011 and welcomed its first cohort of third-year medical students from the College of Medicine in Hershey in 2012. The regional campus trains up to 24 new medical students each year.

In fall 2013, Pennsylvania State Sen. Jake Corman presented the regional medical campus with a $2.5 million state grant to support the campus's mission to recruit more medical students to train and pursue careers in primary care and to improve access to high quality health care for the state's most vulnerable and underserved populations. Among other regional campus initiatives, the state grant is helping support development of an innovative, team-based, multi-disciplinary education curriculum to train medical students and family medicine residents to best address the primary and rural health care needs of Pennsylvania.

“Accreditation of the Family and Community Medicine residency program represents the addition of another building block in our vision of the regional medical campus,” said Dr. Kevin Black, vice dean, University Park Regional Campus. “It will enhance the care we offer to our patients, contribute to the education of our medical students and, in partnering with Mount Nittany Medical Center, energize our efforts to provide superior health care to residents of the Centre County region.”

Under the leadership of program director Dr. Joseph Wiedemer, the regional medical campus's Family Medicine residency program will begin recruiting for the first group of six residents this summer, in anticipation of the program beginning with the 2015-16 academic year.

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