Posted 10/20/15 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
Watford City will soon become a training site for medical students who are looking to practice medicine in rural communities in North Dakota.
According to Dan Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. (MCHS) CEO, the process of being selected as a Rural Residency Training Site has been a long, but rewarding process.
As part of the training site requirements, Dr. Gary Ramage was selected for a faculty appointment as a Clinical Instructor for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of North Dakota Medical School Sept. 24. That appointment will allow MCHS to begin offering a Rural Residency Training Rotation for interested residents in a Family Practice residency.
“Dr. Ramage has been an unrelenting advocate for the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences offering residency opportunities to their medical students in small North Dakota communities,” said Kelly. “He correctly identified that the practice of medicine in Watford City is different than the practice of medicine in Minot or Bismarck.”
Kelly stated that Dr. Ramage also was astute in recognizing that if medical students were exposed to rural North Dakota, they are more likely to decide to practice in a rural community. Given his passion for this, Dr. Ramage has testified to the North Dakota Legislature and presented at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“It is hard not to become aligned with Dr. Ramage on this mission, given his enthusiasm and the overall reality that he is right,” stated Kelly. “To that end, I made a presentation three years ago requesting that Watford City be approved as a rural residency site. It became clear to myself and the committee making that decision that we were not ready. While not affording us approval at that time, the committee strongly urged me to continue to pursue this goal.”
Last year, according to Kelly, Watford City and Hazen partnered and requested funding to bring in a national expert on rural residencies to study the two communities to determine if they could or should ultimately become a rural residency site. And if the answer was yes, they would then be given guidance as to the interim steps needed to be taken in the effort to become a residency site.
“The completed study determined that Watford City could ultimately become a rural residency site, but would be advised to first become a rural rotation track,” said Kelly. “Thus, the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems, Inc. has been working toward the goal of first becoming a rural rotation track. What that would mean is that medical students could choose to come to Watford City for essentially an approximately two-week mini residency.”
In order to qualify as a rural rotation track, Dr. Ramage needed to obtain a faculty appointment as a Clinical Instructor for the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UND Medical School. Dr. Ramage obtained that appointment on Sept. 24, 2015.
“We are now recognized as a rural rotation track and are able to accept students,” stated Kelly. “We anticipate we will begin slow and have one or two medical students this next year. This will serve as our first step toward becoming a residency site.”