After years of planning and work, Bothwell Regional Health Center will see its first two resident physicians join the medical team in July. Brittany Pendergraft and Levi Harris will be the first residents in the Bothwell-University of Missouri Rural Family Medicine Residency, laying the groundwork for a long-term plan to recruit family medicine physicians to Bothwell.
The Rural Training Track is a partnership with the University of Missouri School of Medicine that focuses on training family medicine physicians. In 2019, the university received $404,000 over three years from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration and selected Bothwell as the first in the state to have a rural family medicine residency.
In the fourth and final year of medical school, students apply and interview for residency – a three-to-five-year competitive program depending on their choice of specialty – to complete their medical training to become board-certified physicians. Bothwell received hundreds of residency applications and interviews were held last fall. The interview season culminated on March 18, known as Match Day, when fourth-year medical students across the country simultaneously learned where they will complete their residency training.
Dr. Robert Frederickson, who practices at Bothwell Family Medicine Associates (BFMA), is the residency director and has worked with Mizzou and Bothwell teams since 2019 to launch the initiative. Frederickson is joined in leading the program with Dr. Misty Todd, associate director, and Ellie Euer, residency coordinator. Todd is a physician who provides family medicine and obstetric services at Bothwell Cole Camp Clinic.
“March 18 was a monumental day for our team and for Bothwell,” Frederickson said. “There were a lot of late nights, emails and Zoom meetings as we interviewed applicants and then reviewed their qualifications. We have matched with two wonderful students.”
Pendergraft will graduate from the University of Missouri School of Medicine this month. She is from Stella, Missouri, a small rural community southeast of Neosho. Harris is from Springfield, Missouri, and will graduate this month from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After graduating, Pendergraft and Harris will be physicians and start their residency training on July 1. During their first year, they will see patients one day a week at BFMA and spend the rest of their time at the University of Missouri. In years two and three of their residency, they will be full-time in Sedalia, training throughout the Bothwell system.
In addition to Frederickson, several other Bothwell physicians will serve as residency faculty, teaching and mentoring the physicians in training while continuing to grow their own practices and hone their skills.
“At first, the residents are rookies and need guidance and direction from the faculty,” Frederickson said. “They will gradually assume responsibility based on their milestones and achievements. By their third year, they will be pretty close to practicing independently with minimal supervision.”
Over the next three years, Bothwell will take two residents each year so that by the end of year three, there will be six residents on-site full-time performing various levels of care for patients in the community.
“We have had a medical student teaching program, previously in the form of preceptorships and recently the longitudinal integrated clerkship for the entire third year of medical school,”
Frederickson said. “We are now able to continue with the medical education of medical school graduates in order to prepare physicians for rural practice. With the addition of Drs. Pendergraft and Harris, the program is here to stay.”
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