On any given day on the first floor of Medical Park 2, you will find a group of newly minted doctors working and seeing patients. They belong to the family medicine residency program at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
There are 12 of us from across the country, uniting here in Gainesville to serve you as we work to master our craft. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce us to the community, explain our role in your care and answer some of the most common questions that we get.
The family medicine residency program is in its first year of operation. Our fearless leaders are Program Director Monica Newton, D.O., and Associate Program Directors Leslie David, M.D., and Omari Hodge, M.D.
There are 12 residents that moved to Gainesville in June of this year. We will live, work and grow here until we complete our training in 2023. Each year, a new class of 12 residents will join our program. By the time we reach full capacity in 2023, there will be 36 physicians in training to become the next generation of family medicine physicians.
The questions that I get most often are: what is a resident and what is a residency program? After a medical student graduates from medical school they earn their M.D. or D.O. degrees, both certifying them as “official” medical doctors. Before new doctors can practice medicine independently, they must choose a specialty and train under physicians to obtain specialty board certification. It is this training that is called a “residency.”
Northeast Georgia Medical Center currently has three residency programs: family medicine, internal medicine and general surgery. There are other programs planned as well, such as psychiatry and emergency medicine. Residencies vary in length. Family and internal medicine are three-year programs, whereas general surgery is a five-year program.
One topic that is admittedly confusing is that of the intern. If you have been seen by one of us at the clinic or hospital, you were likely told, “hello, I’m the family medicine intern working with Dr. Wonderful today.”
A new resident in his or her first year of training is called an intern. Interns are closely supervised by their attending physicians and given more support than residents in the latter years of a program. After intern year, they have earned the right to drop the title and are increasingly given more independence to grow and practice the art of medicine.
What is an attending? Attending physicians are doctors who have completed their residency and have agreed to teach and guide residents in their training. Wherever you encounter a resident, an attending is nearby, whether at an outpatient clinic, the hospital or a specialty office.
A natural worry for patients is the question, “am I the first patient you’ve ever seen?” Rest assured you are not the first patient we have seen. Medical school is four years in length. The first two years are called the didactic years, meaning that we go to lectures and are tested on subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, ethics and clinical medicine, just to name a few. The last two years are the clinical years where we begin seeing patients and learning how to put all our book knowledge together. By the time we graduate from medical school, we each have had, on average, 3,000 hours of contact with patients.
My hope is that by addressing these questions, you will come to know and trust us more. Your health and medical care are our top priorities.
Our first patients are treated like first borns: with the utmost caution, care and attention. By the time we finish our family medicine training here in Gainesville, we will have eight years of college and three years of residency work under our belts before we officially earn our wings and can be called family medicine physicians.
The hope is that we won’t fly too far and will make our nests here in North Georgia and continue to serve you. One of the ways we plan to do just that, is by the continuation of these monthly columns. My fellow residents will write columns about health topics that we hope you will find informative and beneficial. Keep an eye out for these in the coming months!
Macy P. Tabb is a part of the family medicine resident program at Northeast Georgia Health System. Columns will publish monthly from residents in the program.