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Thank a Resident Day highlights Rural Track residency program in Williston

CHI St. Alexius Health Williston's Rural Track Residency program has attracted top-notch physicians to our region, and the hospital is showing their appreciation with Thank a Resident Day, scheduled for Friday, Feb. 26. Over the last six years, CHI has integrated family medicine residents into the hospital's clinic, providing patients with more options in terms of care. Family Medicine Residents are licensed doctors who have signed up to take a particular course of study and clinical experiences to become certified in the specialty of Family Medicine. The three-year program gives training in a number of areas to prepare physicians for a variety of patient needs.

"Family medicine has gone beyond just a general practitioner to give additional specific training in a number of different medical specialties ranging from general medicine and pediatrics to psychiatry, dermatology and surgery," Dr. Curt Small explained to the Williston Herald. "By giving these doctors a three-year experience in these areas, they become proficient in handling patients with wide-ranging problems."

Small said CHI has graduated eight doctors from the program, with two of those remaining on staff in Williston. Small added that two more residents would be completing the program in June. Small said the program was conceived to help supply primary care doctors to the region, giving them the experience they may not see in other locations. The work they do in Northwest North Dakota, Small said, is one of the reasons Thank a Resident Day has come about.

"Residents when they are here end up getting very challenging situations to deal with," Small said. "That's why we want to say thank you to them, because they get tossed into medical circumstances that they end up doggedly unraveling and figuring out, to make sure that people get the kind of care that they need."

Residency Program Coordinator Brittny Mayo said taking time to honor these hard-working doctors is important to CHI St. Alexius, as these providers have given so much to rural healthcare in the area.

"What's unique about our residents is that they're kind of like the Swiss Army Knives of doctors in that they have to know a little bit about everything," Mayo said. "Being in a rural care facility like CHI, they see very unique things and they develop very unique relationships and connections with their patients that a lot of other specialty residents and providers don't get."

Small and Mayo noted CHI's unique role as a training hospital for these residents, explaining that program coordinators pour over 500 to 1,000 applications each year for the program, spending three months narrowing down the candidates to just two.

"We spend months looking at these applications one at a time looking for the best of the best of the people that will fit in with our community," Mayo said. "We're looking for the people that really have that drive for rural health care."

By Mitch Melberg, Williston Herald 
mmelberg@willistonherald.com