Clinical teaching and learning lead to community building in Memphis.
Memphis is a place where many aspiring professionals find the inspiration and resources to hone their craft. Whether it’s our distinct musical sound, our culinary feats and inventions or our business concepts that have shaped the future of entire industries, Memphis is on the world map.
The next generation of physicians, pharmacists and other health professionals hone their talents in Memphis, too. Memphis is a hot spot for medical students and residents seeking to connect their passion for helping others with hands-on learning and mentoring.
Thanks to a partnership between Regional One Health and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Memphis attracts emerging medical professionals from around the globe for clinical training that is second to none. The culmination of a quality medical education is the process of observing and training under practiced physicians. For medical residents and students, training at Regional One Heath, a premier teaching hospital, is a singular experience. For the Greater Memphis community, the benefits of hosting a teaching hospital are plentiful. Advances in medical knowledge and innovations, more personnel for high-quality and attentive patient care and quality-of-life impacts are among the positive effects channeled through the Regional One Health-UTHSC gateway into our community.
Advances in Medicine
The Regional One Health-UTHSC partnership ensures that all UTHSC faculty members who are also physicians at Regional One Health stay well versed in the latest medical literature and breakthroughs. They then teach that knowledge to the students and residents who come to Memphis for their clinical training.
“That means our patients benefit from medical care that is up-to-date on the latest advances in research and treatment,” says Dr. Ajay J. Talati, Chief of Medical Staff at Regional One Health and a professor in the UTHSC Department of Pediatrics and OB/GYN.
It also means that medical students and residents assist Regional One Health as added personnel for research projects, which can create invaluable contributions to the medical profession and to patient care.
Dr. Kay Ryan, Regional One Health’s pharmacy director, shares an example: The pharmacy department is currently engaged in an effort to streamline insulin protocol. “The process has been greatly improved by having people who can spend focused time on data collection and analysis,” she says. “The residents learn from these projects, and we don’t have to take attention away from other aspects, like patient care, to conduct them.”
The goal of such research is improved patient safety and care. “The benefits will be felt industry-wide,” says Ryan. “If one of our students involved in a project ends up practicing in another city, they will take that knowledge with them. One of us might publish our findings or present them at a medical conference. All because, as a teaching hospital, we had the personnel available at Regional One Health to conduct the study.”
Dr. Alex Woods is a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine at UTHSC and says that most physicians go into medicine because they want to help people. UTHSC medical students and residents rotate through Regional One Health 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Rotations expose them to the various areas of medicine, giving them a broad perspective and helping them chart their own course toward a medical profession that aligns with their passion for helping and healing.
Dr. Chris Wood, an UTHSC Professor of Pharmacy and former pharmacy resident at Regional One Health, describes how patients benefit from these rotations. “When we do rounds, a team of students, residents, and interns will visit the patients, usually led by an attending physician or chief resident. We’ll look at the patient’s history, and the attending will ask questions of the group. From the patient’s perspective, it means a lot more face time with a lot more doctors, and it means a lot more opportunity to ask questions.”
Currently, Regional One Health has third-year medical students in six different clerkships: medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, psychiatry, neurology and neonatology. More than 150 residents are at Regional One Health, in every specialty from radiology to psychiatry, as well as many subspecialties. More than 25 clinical electives are offered to students, from anesthesiology to urology. The pharmacy department holds more than 70 rotations each year in all parts of the hospital.
“Regional One Health treats some of the more acute patients in the region, especially in the trauma center, as well as the advanced cases of diseases like diabetes,” says Dr. Nathan Manley, a resident in surgery. “We see at-risk pregnancies here; we see sickle cell. Treating these patients makes us better clinicians. Regional One Health gives us a much more authentic experience in our training.”
Their training and exposure is not limited to only medical procedures, but also includes how to interact with patients and staff. “They see the work ethic they will need to practice as a physician,” says Dr. Susan Brewer, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions for the UTHSC College of Medicine.
Regional One Health also provides an excellent opportunity for emerging physicians to see the most vulnerable of patients – those who need care the most but don’t have insurance. “Because Regional One Health serves everyone, it forces us to face the realities of every patient’s care,” says Dr. Lindsay Eneback, a resident in pediatric medicine. “We may have great new medicines, but if our patient can’t afford to fill the prescriptions, we develop a more feasible treatment plan.”
Dr. Eneback says this reminds them to focus on treating the person, not just the illness. “We learn that more at Regional One Health than anywhere else,” she says.
A sign of a vibrant community is the ability to attract and retain talented people. The medical training available at Regional One Health brings to Memphis bright young medical professionals from across the nation and overseas.
And that’s good news for greater Memphis. According to Dr. Brewer, where medical students do their residency is the single biggest predictor of where they will settle and practice. “They’re more likely to stay in your area — and possibly in your facility — to establish their medical practice. It’s a big advantage to the community and to the individual hospital,” she says.
From her vantage point as Regional One Health’s pharmacy director, Kay Ryan knows that people want to work at Regional One Health. “This year we have four positions available for first-year pharmacy residents. We received more than 65 applications. Many times, pharmacists who finish their residencies at Regional One Health want to stay, but positions aren’t open at that time. So, they’ve gone and worked somewhere else until a position here opened up.”
The desirability of Regional One Health as a place to practice medicine directly affects our community’s quality and availability of local healthcare. “When the medical professionals who train here end up staying in our community, it means people in Memphis and the surrounding areas don’t have to travel out of our area to find specialty and subspecialty care,” says Dr. Ajay J. Talati, Chief of Medical Staff at Regional One Health.
Even though Dr. Alex Woods is not from Memphis and attended medical school elsewhere, he plans to stay here when he finishes his residency and goes into practice. “My wife and I love the city,” he says, “and I’ve become connected to the healthcare system here.”
There are significant economic benefits to the recruitment and retention of physicians. According to a 2014 study sponsored by the American Medical Association, the average physician generates more than $1 million in wages and benefits to support staff and more than $100,000 in state and local taxes each year.
“There’s simply no question that our affiliation with UTHSC is one of the most important and productive ones we have,” says Dr. Reginald Coopwood, Regional One Health President and CEO. “We are essential to their mission of educating medical professionals, and they are essential to our mission to provide the best possible medical care.”