The overall goal of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Marshall University is to develop highly competent family practitioners committed to the philosophy of our specialty as uniquely providing comprehensive care to individuals, whole families, and entire communities. The curriculum is designed to graduate physicians dedicated to the enduring pursuit of excellence through continuing medical education and capable of balancing the many demands of practice with the needs for their own individual and family health. At Marshall University we nurture sensitivity to the health needs of the underprivileged, underserved, and marginalized patients, with a particular emphasis on these and other issues as they relate to rural communities. We train family practitioners who are aware of their role as patient advocates and who are comfortable and competent at incorporating the elements of wellness and prevention into their everyday practice. The residency, thus, has as one of its primary objectives the development of the cognitive, procedural, and interpersonal skills necessary to provide the full range of quality primary care services in a variety of settings and to patients of all ages.
Our Family Medicine Program is based upon a philosophy which recognizes that developing residents can best learn the principles of our comprehensive specialty within the context of their own practice (FMC patient panel) as guided by experienced practitioners and teachers of family medicine. Therefore, education within the model Family Medicine Center has been and will always remain the main core of the training program. It is here that residents develop and maintain the continuing physician-patient relationships that will allow them to experience the unique issues and develop the unique skills that characterize Family Medicine. In the Center, residents are guided in providing continuous and comprehensive care to entire families and gain understanding of the often complex interactions of health issues on various family members. It is in their FMC practice that residents best experience patient problems within their broader social, economic, cultural, and biologic contexts.
Our residency is committed to the goal of graduating family practitioners who are capable and comfortable in caring for patients not only in the ambulatory setting (as in the FMC), but also in the hospital setting. This is the principle which supports the second major component of our training program, the Family Medicine Hospital Service. This service is supervised exclusively by the faculty of the Department of Family and Community Health and provides a significant portion of our residents' inpatient experience. Attendings act not only as academic resources, but as practitioner role models as well, demonstrating our specialty's continuing role in the various aspects of hospital-based care.
Of crucial importance, is the early fostering and nurturing of a family practice "identity" within each resident. This process begins immediately upon arrival of the new resident during our special orientation activities and continues throughout the three-year program. The importance of cultivating this "identity" is one of the driving forces behind another major structural component of Marshall's program, Family Practice Grand Rounds. In the gathering together weekly of all family practice residents and faculty for an afternoon of interaction and educational exchange, residents are able to re-focus as family physicians while assigned to varying specialty rotations. In addition, each entering resident class meets for lunch twice monthly with a family practice faculty advisor. Of course, the family practice "identity" is most intimately developed within the context of each resident's three year experience in the FMC. Family Medicine Grand Rounds also provides an intellectually challenging environment which encourages continuing self-directed education.
It is our objective to develop mature professionals who approach their discipline with compassion, integrity, and balanced dedication. Our faculty are expected to act as appropriate role models in this regard and to provide advice and feedback to residents as they become more experienced physicians. The residency is dedicated to graduating physicians who are aware of the needs of their own physical and emotional health (and that of their families) and who can properly balance those needs with the often heavy demands of practice.
Our curriculum is designed to minimize the stress that is inevitably a part of any post-graduate medical training program and provide support for those individuals experiencing difficulties. Each resident chooses a faculty advisor who plays a significant role in these elements.
While our residency graduates are prepared to practice in any type of setting, as a program located in a state with serious needs in rural primary care, the Marshall University Family Medicine Program has a special interest in developing family physicians skilled in the unique aspects of rural and small town medicine. Our faculty is dedicated to studying and developing strategies for solving the many health problems facing the small town and rural communities of our state and nation. The rural practice, teaching, and research experience of our faculty, allows us to provide a special emphasis in this area throughout the three-year training structure. We have achieved significant success to date, and have as a major objective, the furthering of that success. Toward that end, we have developed a second model Family Medicine Center for our program, located in a neighboring rural county for selected residents with particularly strong interests in rural medicine. This experience benefits from what has been a longstanding and exceptional relationship between our program and a nationally recognized rural community health center (Lincoln Primary Care Center). This addition has the added benefit of greatly expanding the patient base available for continuity training of our residents (both general and obstetrical).
Other specific strengths of our faculty allow for a unique emphasis to interested residents. International Health, Wilderness Medicine, Health Policy, Sports Medicine, Women's Health, Procedural Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Geriatrics, Occupational and Environmental Health, Community Medicine, and Behavioral Medicine are just a few of the many areas of special expertise of our faculty. We have designed our curriculum with great flexibility built upon a very strong base that will allow residents the opportunity to pursue their personal special interests within the context of a high quality family practice training experience.
With the increasingly complex and fluid state of our nation’s medical care delivery system, it is ever more important that graduates of family practice residency programs be adequately prepared to face the myriad of business management issues they will undoubtedly confront in their future practice. Our department has been a leader in the State of West Virginia in navigating and participating in the development of medical care delivery systems and our faculty is committed to preparing our residents to be active and well-informed community leaders in this crucial area.
Ultimately, the Marshall program attempts to fully develop the leadership potential of our resident physicians. As they grow in the cognitive and interpersonal skills of family medicine, our curriculum structure is designed to grant increasing responsibility in patient care, teaching, and program input. In this way, we hope to continue to meet our commitment to graduating caring and competent family physicians who are able to contribute superior leadership at local, national, and international levels during these critical and changing times