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What’s next for residency programs at Northeast Georgia Medical Center
Match Day 2021
The Office of Graduate Medical Education and leadership at Northeast Georgia Medical Center on Friday, March 19, 2021. - photo by Northeast Georgia Health System

In 2019, Northeast Georgia Medical Center started out with two residencies — general surgery and internal medical — to get its Graduate Medical Education program off the ground.

The center’s first class of residents in the inaugural season of the Graduate Education Program filled 20 internal medicine spots and six general surgery slots. 

If those residencies earn accreditation this April, NGMC can officially begin the interview process for prospective candidates to fill slots in the program this upcoming fall.

They have since added a family medicine program and have plans for three more residencies.

On March 19, known as National Match Day, a new class of residents was set to enter NGMC’s current residencies.

The incoming class brings the NGHS residency count to 102. It will be the third class of residents for internal medicine and general surgery specialties and the second class for the family medicine track.

According to Delzell, residents will be assigned to area clinics in Gainesville and Braselton starting July 1.

The Northeast Georgia Medical Center hopes its emergency medicine, OB/GYN and psychiatry residency programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education next month.

As NGMC continues to add and expand its Graduate Medical Education programs, the goal by 2024 is to host more than 200 residents across six specialties, potentially making the program one of the largest in the state.

“Our planned emergency medicine, OB/GYN and psychiatry residency programs are an integral part of statewide efforts to improve access to quality care in Georgia,” said John E. Delzell Jr., vice president of Graduate Medical Education for Northeast Georgia Health System and designated institutional official for NGMC. 

He added, “These three new programs, once accredited, will join our current general surgery, internal medicine and family medicine residency programs — and we can’t wait to get started with the recruitment of excellent physicians so we can care for generations to come.”

In February, NGHS conducted virtual site visits with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for the planned residencies. 

Hospitals must complete a survey with full evaluations of program personnel, faculty, institutional safety and quality metrics, curriculum, the learning and working environment in order to gain accreditation. 

Dr. Kalpana Prasad was announced in November as the program director for psychiatry.

NGHS has employed a strategy in the past of embedding licensed clinical social workers alongside physicians in family health and other areas of NGHS.

NGHS officials previously told The Times that if a physician and patient determine talk therapy could be beneficial, the patient can return to wherever they get their care normally and get connected to a behavioral health specialist.

“When I came over and I spoke to quite a few of (the embedded social workers), their frustration was that when this person has a severity of mental health symptoms, which is beyond their expertise and they want access to care … they don’t know how to achieve that,” Prasad said.

Prasad said access to care and the ability to refer to local mental health doctors was limited.

With an eye toward starting in July 2022, the program would bring six trainee physicians to start their psychiatric residency. Prasad said they have already identified the core faculty for the residency program.

NGHS also hopes to have the OB/GYN program up and running July 2022, with four to six residents per year in the four-year program.

In October, NGHS tabbed Dr. Francis Nuthalapaty to head the OB/GYN residency as its director. 

“Dr. Nuthalapaty is passionate about caring for women with complex medical and obstetrical conditions during pregnancy and postpartum,” NGHS officials said in a statement announcing his hire. “He understands that every woman has a unique background that encompasses not only her world view, but also her health needs, and focuses on providing compassionate and culturally sensitive care.”

Hired in late 2019, Josh Mugele will continue to serve as the program director of the emergency medicine program, which will eventually have 12 slots to fill. 

Times reporter Nick Watson contributed.