Salutes & Awards

June 29, 2012

Nellis medical center graduates first resident class

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By First Lt. Ken Lustig
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Maj. Eric Abbott, 99th Medical Group family medicine resident doctor, examines a patient’s eyes at the Mike O’ Callaghan Medical Center. The residency program is a cornerstone of the former Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital’s expansion to a Medical Center, enabling the addition of multiple medical care specialties to the hospital’s services and bringing in medical research programs, all of which mean additional resources are available to patients.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev — The 99th Medical Group Family Medicine Residency Program is graduating its first class today.

The FMR graduation ceremony marks the end of the residents’ three-years of post-doctoral, supervised practice, signifying the six graduating doctors met the rigorous standards required for them to practice medicine independently.

Nellis’ residency program is one of only a handful of resident teaching programs in the Air Force. It has the distinction of being the Air Force’s newest residency at its newest Medical Center.

The six graduates are the vanguard alumni of a “cradle to grave” medical care teaching program; up to 24 residents from medical schools across the nation are training here as family medicine specialists, capable of treating a wide array of primary care patient concerns. Additionally, each resident completes a rigorous research or scholarly activity project, while also receiving some in-depth training in other specialties and complex outpatient procedures.

Col. Brian Crownover, residency program director, said the program is the cornerstone to the former Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital’s expansion to Federal Medical Center this year.

“The presence of the program is what allows Mike O’Callaghan to be a Medical Center,” he said. “What that gives to our beneficiaries is an increase in the number and quality of services we can offer across a number of sub specialties.”

“The advantage to the Nellis patient is that you’re getting a ‘blue suit’ [Air Force] doc that can handle the bulk of your care because they are experienced in those sub specialties. If you didn’t have this, you would have to be referred off-site for care you can get here under one roof,” Crownover said. “The physician in turn has a greater understanding of all of the patient’s issues so they can take a more informed and broad-spectrum approach to treatment.”

Nellis’ residency program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the organization responsible for accreditation of post-MD medical training programs across the United States. Crownover said the program offers excellent training, meeting or exceeding the same standards for residents required at every U.S. civilian residency institution.

As a large medical center, however, Nellis offers residents better opportunities for in-house research, inter-department rotations and clinical practice. Mike O’Callaghan serves one of the largest DOD beneficiary populations in the U.S.; here, residents garner in-depth knowledge seeing a broad variety of cases, while patients benefit from their increased experience relative to providers trained in less active facilities.

Although it is a new program, Crownover said Nellis FMR has already achieved excellent results. The consulting staff is drawn from the top five percent of the Air Force Family Medicine community, and the program’s medical research has already garnered the program over $1.5 million in grants, more than all other Air Force residency programs combined.

However, he said, the program’s ultimate goal is “delivering quality care to our Air Force families, and a diversity of care at a high standard competitive with any similarly-sized medical institution.”

“The ability to have a patient walk in, and be able to treat 99 percent of the problems they might have – that’s an amazing feeling that our residents will get through this program,” said Crownover




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