School of Medicine awarded planning grant for new rural surgery residency program

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to support the planning and development of West Virginia’s first rural surgery residency program. 

The grant, which will be administered through the Marshall Community Health Consortium, is one of only nine grants awarded as part of the HRSA Rural Residency Planning and Development Program to help address physician workforce shortages in rural communities. This is the first time these funds have been awarded to plan a rural surgery residency program. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a shortage of between 23,100 and 31,600 general surgeons is expected by 2025.

“The areas that will, undoubtedly, suffer most from a surgeon shortage are our rural communities,” said Paulette S. Wehner, M.D., vice dean of graduate medical education at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and principal investigator on the grant. “Research indicates that a resident is more likely to practice in the state of their residency training. By providing training in a rural setting, we hope many will opt to stay in West Virginia after their residency and practice in a community-based hospital.”

The Consortium, which is composed of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall Health, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Valley Health and Holzer Health Systems, will partner with Logan Regional Medical Center, a 132-bed acute care facility in Logan County, West Virginia, to develop curriculum, recruit faculty and address the clinical and learning environment needs necessary to establish an accredited rural surgery residency program. Residents will spend at least 50% of the five-year training residency in a rural hospital.

“While the basic principles remain the same, rural surgery requires a wide spectrum of care that is different from what trainees experience in an urban academic medical center,” said Farzad Amiri, M.D., F.A.C.S., a general surgeon and associate professor at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, who will serve as director of the program. 

In Logan County, Jodi M. Cisco-Goff, M.D., F.A.C.S., general surgeon and assistant professor, will serve as the program’s associate director. Cisco-Goff, who completed both her medical degree and general surgery residency at Marshall before joining the medical school’s faculty in 2002, has been practicing in southern West Virginia for nearly 20 years.

“As we think about the next generation of surgeons in West Virginia, we must proactively consider how our medical school can provide West Virginians with the best possible access to surgical care,” said David A. Denning, M.D., F.A.C.S., professor and chair of the department of surgery. “Dr. Cisco-Goff and her staff will play an integral part in building the rural residency program from the ground up. Rural access to surgery across the U.S. has reached crisis level, and it is exciting to be the first in the nation chosen by HRSA to address the surgeon shortage in this way.”

The three-year grant requires the submission of a rural surgery residency application to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) by 2024. Under the planning proposal, the training program will aim to receive initial accreditation in 2022 and welcome its first residents in July 2023. The program will phase in new residents each year until a maximum complement of 15 residents is reached.

To learn more about residency programs at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, visit or call 304-691-1824. For news and information about the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, follow us on Twitter @MUSOMWV, like us on Facebook or visit 

Media Contact:  Sheanna M. Spence, Director of External Affairs, School of Medicine, 304-691-1639

Date Posted: Friday, July 9, 2021