MRHC Residency Program Grows

McAlester Regional Health Center’s Physician Residency Program continues to be a premier choice for new doctors, even as it expands and adds a new specialty.

MRHC will add three new residents this summer for its inaugural Internal Medicine residency program, and four new doctors will join the Family Medicine program. The new Internal Medicine program will then add three new physicians each year, for a total nine by 2018. Family Medicine grows to 11 resident physicians in July, graduating three and adding four.

Each doctor works at MRHC for three years as a residency requirement in his or her respective specialty: Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. Each is a Doctor of Osteopathy.

For the new Internal Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Timothy Cook will be program director. The resident doctors will work under the direct supervision of Dr. Misty Branam, Internal Medicine practitioner at Southeast Clinic, a service of McAlester Regional Health Center.

Meanwhile, the MRHC Family Medicine residency program added its 10th resident, Dr. Lori Peters, in November. The McAlester native joined MRHC after completing two years of a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Oklahoma State University.

The daughter of Kermit and Linda Peters (Kermit owns Beautiful Rooms of McAlester and Linda is a teacher at the local Kiamichi Technology Center campus), Dr. Peters said she decided to switch to a Family Medicine specialty so that she could work at MRHC and be in McAlester.

“I love the people here, the doctors, the employees,” she said. “The hospital here is much more family-oriented. The people are much happier here.”

MRHC also hosts the following Family Medicine residents:

  • 3rd Year (graduating this summer) –
    • Dr. Stephanie Patyk (MRHC Resident of the Year 2015)
    • Dr. Laura Jennings
    • Dr. Andrew Ryals
  • 2nd Year –
    • Dr. Clay Bowen
    • Dr. Jennifer Kim
    • Dr. William Kinderknecht
  • 1st Year –
    • Dr. Dami Akingbola
    • Dr. Natalyia Polito
    • Dr. Chelsea Berges

First year resident Dr. Berges has become a standout for the program, earning top scores on recent national testing: 658 out of 700. The national average score for the five-hour annual test by the America College of Osteopathic Family Physicians was 590.

“As we work with new doctors to stay in our community, we’re producing doctors who perform in the top 25th percentile in the nation to help MRHC become the healthcare destination for southeast Oklahoma,” said Dr. Jason McElyea, MRHC Director of Medical Education.

Dr. McElyea, who also serves on the hospital’s team of Emergency Department physicians, was named MRHC Physician of the Year in 2015.

As a group, the MRHC Family Medicine Residency team scored higher than the national average on the annual test for the third year in a row.

The Family Medicine physicians practice under the direct supervision of Dr. Carol Gambrill, Family Medicine practitioner at MRHC’s Southeast Clinic. Gambrill said each doctor lives in the McAlester area, and works with other specialists at MRHC as part of their rotations.

“It’s great for the residents, because they’re working side by side with other specialists, developing those working relationships,” she said. “Their rotations might take them to the Emergency Department one day, and then the ICU on the next shift.”

This week, Dr. McElyea sat by his computer during Match Day to learn which residents have been assigned to MRHC for the coming year. He said the demand among new doctors for the McAlester residency program is high.

“The breadth of experience the doctors get here is so much more than they might see at the emergency room at OSU, for instance,” he said. “They can see more here in one morning than they would in a month at OSU.”

Each week, Dr. McElyea meets with the doctors formally to review patient cases and procedures, and he presents a lecture. The physicians also work on a research project as part of their residency.

MRHC Chief Information Officer Frank Hilbert, the hospital executive over the residency programs, said the doctors are a valuable addition to MRHC and the medical community of the region.

“We are helping to grow the doctors who will make McAlester their home, who will choose Southeast Oklahoma as the place to hang their shingle,” Hilbert said. “And so far, we’re getting the cream of the crop.”