A new partnership between the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) and Searcy-based Unity Health will allow medical school graduates residency programs as well as offer training opportunities for the school’s students.
Third and fourth-year medical students are required to complete clerkships, also known as rotations. The clerkships have to be completed in a medical facility, often in a hospital, according to Dr. Tony Little, ARCOM associate dean for graduate medical education.
The partnership will allow third and fourth-year student to complete their core clerkships with Unity Health.
Fort Smith-based ARCOM also has clerkship partnerships with Mercy Fort Smith, Baptist Health-Fort Smith, Baptist Health Metro in Little Rock, Northwest Health Centers in Northwest Arkansas, CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs, Jefferson Regional in Pine Bluff, Alliance Health in Durant, Okla., Choctaw National Health Services in Talihina, Okla., Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center in Poteau, and Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Mo., Little said.
The partnership with Unity Health is two-fold in that Unity Health also will offer graduates of the medical college graduate medical education training as resident physicians.
“Becoming Unity Health’s academic affiliate reinforces ARCOM’s commitment to graduate medical education,” said Kyle Parker, Arkansas College of Health Education president and CEO. “Our goal has been to develop and support residency training programs within institutions where resident physicians receive outstanding training. We believe this partnership with Unity Health is a major step in meeting this goal.”
Unity Health is a healthcare provider in an eight-county area with more than 2,300 employees. The facility has 438 licensed beds and a medical staff of more than 150 physicians that specialize in various areas of healthcare.
“The partnership with ARCOM helps us to focus on our communities. While we know that not all of our residents will remain in Arkansas after residency, affiliating with an Arkansas medical school is an additional way we can work to provide additional physicians for our state. We are very excited about this partnership,” said Dewey McAfee, designated institutional official for Ray Montgomery Graduate Medical Education department at Unity Health.
ARCOM received approval to provide postdoctoral education by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in January. This accreditation along with contracts and partnerships with Unity Health and other area hospitals for residency programs for its graduates will help encourage ARCOM graduates to stay and practice in the Fort Smith area, school officials said.
Medical students begin their residency programs after they graduate medical school. They are required to have one-year post-doctoral training in order to apply for a license, Little said. The average residency program for primary practice, which includes family, internal medicine, emergency and pediatric practice, are three-year programs, Little said. Surgical residencies and fellowships can extend to four to six years or longer. Keeping students in the area for the four years of medical school and at least three of residency increases the possibility of students continuing to live and practice in the area, Parker said.
ARCOM will become Unity Health’s affiliate medical school partner effective July 1. ARCOM will provide shared services for Unity Health’s Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Psychiatry Residency Program, Emergency Medicine Residency Program, as well as the newly accredited transitional year program, Little said.
“These shared services for Unity Health’s graduate medical education programs include faculty appointments, faculty development resources, online library resources for both faculty and residents, scholarly activity resources, as well as other optional services as requested,” he said.
ARCOM welcomed an inaugural class of 150 osteopathic medical students in August 2017. Those students will begin their third year in August and graduate in May 2021.