First resident physicians complete training at Baptist Memorial Hospital

Published 10:00 am Monday, June 10, 2024

The 12 founding resident physicians of the first medical residency at Baptist Memorial Hospital– North Mississippi will complete their training this month and are moving on to the next steps in their medical careers.

The three-year Internal Medicine residency training program’s mission is to train clinically and procedurally competent physicians in the specialty of Internal Medicine.

According to Seger S. Morris, DO, founding program director, the program had been in the works for several years after Baptist Memorial Health Care made a strategic effort to start developing graduate medical education programs.

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“Bill Henning, the retired CEO of Baptist North Mississippi, was very supportive of developing our Internal Medicine Residency and hired me as the founding program director to create and implement the initial vision,” Morris said.

In March of 2021, the Class of 2024 matched with BMH-NM in the National Resident Matching Program’s Main Residency Match after a rigorous recruitment, interview, and ranking process.

They began an orientation process in June 2021 before starting their clinical rotations on July 1, 2021. Their rotations included experiences primarily in the Oxford community, both in the hospital and at the Baptist Medical Group – Oxford Internal Medical Clinic that was established in 2021 just ahead of their arrival. They also spent time learning from specialists in the areas of cardiology, emergency medicine, endocrinology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, hematology/oncology, infectious disease, nephrology, neurology, pulmonology and critical care, rheumatology, rural primary care, wound care and more.

“I’m proudest of team we’ve built – the way the entire care team, faculty, support staff, and local administrators have prioritized supporting the resident physicians and their personal/professional goals is unmatched,” Morris said.

BMH welcomed two additional classes of resident physicians in 2022 and 2023. A new class will start on July 1, bringing the program up to 36 resident physicians.

Morris said everyone involved with the program rose to the challenge of starting a brand new residency program.

“I’ve been very impressed by how this first class was quick to extend trust in the faculty and administrators, helped us solve problems with a pioneering spirit, offered us grace when we made mistakes, and truly paved the way for those who follow,” he said.

The biggest change to the program, Morris said, has been to expand and promote faculty.

“We’ve promoted a new program director, two new associate program directors, and recruited over a dozen new core faculty and rotation preceptors over the past two years all in effort to create even more opportunities and support for resident physicians,” he said.

Morris said the resident physicians care for thousands of patients each year and have an estimated economic impact of over $25M per year.

“This is a substantial positive impact on both the physical and financial health of OUL and surrounding communities,” he said..

Many Oxford clinicians signed on to play a key role in training the next generation of physicians.

A founding group of core faculty members helped to lay the groundwork that include:

  • Jacob Whelan, MD – Associate Program Director
  • Sumner Abraham, MD – Core Faculty Member
  • Shayan Butt, MD – Core Faculty Member
  • David Duddleston, MD – Core Faculty Member
  • Samuel Harris, MD – Core Faculty Member

Estefania Lara Garcia, MD, is now at the helm as Program Director and four new core faculty members have been added – Dr. Nathan Bell, Dr. Reed Davis, Dr. Damian Mercier and Dr. Ramsey Turner.

Garrett Hadley is one of the 12 founding resident physicians who will be finishing up this month. Originally from Shawnee, Oklahoma, he earned a degree in chemistry at the Honor’s College of The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He attended medical school at Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Smith, Ark.

He said choosing the residency program at BMH was an “obvious choice” for him.

“Firstly, given that my wife was attending dental school in Memphis, I wanted to stay near enough to her so that we could see each other easily and regularly. Secondly, during my interview at Baptist-Oxford, I was immediately impressed by the leadership of the program,” he said. “It was very apparent that the program was well-organized and that the faculty were very invested in the success of the program and trainees alike. It was refreshing to see a relatively young group of core faculty who were not far separated from their own medical training.”

Getting to live in Oxford was also a motivator behind his choice.

“Oxford is in a unique position geographically that allows us to see a wide range of patients and pathologies,” he said “The Delta is recognized as being grossly underserved and it’s rewarding to assist in lessening this disparity. The prospect of living in Oxford was also exciting for me. I missed being in an SEC college town and looked forward to being back in that vibrant atmosphere.”

Being the inaugural class allowed for a one-of-a-kind experience, Hadley said.

“We took a leap of faith in the program just as the program did in us,” he said. “We had the unique opportunity to assist our faculty in building the program that we wanted. Being the intimate group that it was, we became a fast family.”

Hadley said he is confident that the curriculum and diverse patient population have readied him and his fellow residents for independent practice.

“I think that we are very fortunate to have had the degree of support from faculty and hospital administrators alike,” he said. “Baptist has become a big family and it will certainly be bitter-sweet moving on to our next levels of career.”

After graduation, Hadley and his wife will be relocating to Conway, Arkansas where he has accepted a position as a hospitalist at Conway Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Johnny Green, originally from southeast Lousianna said he chose the program at Baptist after interacting with Morris in 2020 during a Zoom presentation at medical school.

“I was honestly drawn in by the passion he displayed not only for healthcare but for the new Internal Medicine residency program,” Green said. “It was truly inspiring to see the possibilities through his eyes and the vision he has for the future of healthcare in north Mississippi.”

Green said being in the first class of the residency program has not only been an exciting opportunity but has also enjoyed being able to pay the way for future residents at BMH.

“Residency is demanding and stressful but incredibly rewarding on a personal level,” he said. “Our program successfully implemented a rotation schedule that has allowed for a reasonable work-life balance which is unique particularly in the Internal Medicine residency world.”

Having enjoyed the program and living in Oxford, Green accepted a faculty position at Baptist’s outpatient clinic, Baptist Memorial Group, Internal Medicine Clinic in Oxford.

“In my opinion, having a successful residency program here will only further contribute to keeping the care at Baptist Hospital North Mississippi current as healthcare is a dynamic entity. We have the privilege of learning directly from our attending physicians and gaining exposure to their years of experience and knowledge.”