Family Medicine Residency Program at Memorial University Medical Center

Savannah, GA

This year begins the seventh year since Robert Pallay, M.D. took over the Family Medicine Residency director’s position. The Program at Memorial University Medical Center, Savannah, Georgia has continued to improve and flourish under his direction. In March of 2013 we added Cindy Carter, M.D. as a full time faculty member. By the end of 2013, we will have had 3 of our faculty move on, joining private practices in other parts of the southeast or working in Urgent Care. In addition, Dr. Jackie Huntly, who has run our Integrative Medicine program will be moving to a consultative position still in charge of that program in our residency, but will instead spend more of her time developing her private Life Coaching and Lifestyle Management practice. We are fortunate to be able to continue to have her work with our residents as we go into our fourth year of having Integrative Medicine as part of our curriculum. We are actively interviewing and intend to have replaced all of the faculty by the beginning of the new academic year in June. Fortunately we continue to have Drs. Keith Ellis, Nikki Johnson, Karen Baker, and Bobbi Kumar doing regular precepting shifts that help the full time faculty do the rest of their many responsibilities in the program. Rusty Hightower, M.D., a graduate of the FMR program in the 90’s continues to do all of our geriatric teaching and training in addition to his full time position with Southcoast Medical Group.  In June we were very fortunate to add Steve Livingston, PhD as our behavioral medicine full time faculty. The commitment of our faculty as well as the many sub-specialty physicians we work with here at Memorial make the program a growing success and presence in Savannah and the rest of southeast Georgia.

We have continued to develop our NCQA Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home office this past year. Memorial has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of PCMH care and the residency practice is the first of what is expected to be all of our primary care practices in the system to be certified as PCMH within 18 months. We are working with BCBS-GA on their PC2 program and are discussing involvement with many more payers in similar programs. This will continue in the ensuing years as we continue to strive to make the residency practice and the residency itself PCMH-friendly.

Our one to two week rotation in Atlanta doing practice management with the people at Peach Care has been a great success and continues to be fully supported by the administration at Memorial through partnering with experts in the business world. Finally, this year we started regular 3-week rotations in rural medicine with all of our PGY3 residents rotating through a site in Thomasville in southwest Georgia or LaGrange in West Georgia. Feedback so far has been excellent but we wait to see how it continues to work out. For the Archbold people, though, it has been a great success as they have already hired one of the graduates this past year with another probably joining them after her fellowship year.

In addition to our full resident complement, there continues to be seven to nine medical students working with our faculty and residents either in our office or on the hospital team at all times. The recent establishment of the Family Medicine – Accelerated Curriculum (FM-ACT) pilot at Mercer University School of Medicine here in Savannah has been a great success.  We had our second year of students this year; next June the first two will join our own Savannah Family Medicine residency a year earlier than their peers and be moving quickly towards decreasing the shortage of family physicians in Georgia. The program itself continues to gather lots of national attention with articles in JAMA, the NEJM, and many others. Dr. Pallay and his colleagues at Texas Tech continue to be on panels and present to the many institutions interested in this type of accelerated curriculum across the US and other countries. We have started discussions with leadership at Mercer and Memorial to expand that number of FM-ACT students in the near future.

We continue to work with our new EMR, Epic, which has been live for almost a full year, and see many ways it will enhance our PCMH and general patient care. In addition, Lindsey Konor, one of our faculty, went to the Epic headquarters in Wisconsin and took the necessary courses and training to be certified as a physician builder.  In that role she has been most helpful to us here but also to all in the Memorial system using Epic.

Our graduates continue to find diverse career paths. All of last year’s graduates have taken positions doing Family Medicine in practices in Georgia and the Southeast which is an exciting end result of the training we are providing for them here at Memorial.