HED: Tupelo doctor honored for creating unique residency program
By Marty Russell
A Tupelo physician has received a national award from the American College of Physicians for his work in establishing one of the few private practice internal medicine residency programs in the country.
Dr. Paul White of Internal Medicine Associates in Tupelo was presented a Preceptorship Award by the national medical organization for helping establish the unique medical training program about two years ago.
“As the program’s preceptor, Dr. White displays many important attitudes, skills and coping strategies that the student can learn and develop for his or her future in medicine,” Dr. Susan Deutsch, a fellow of the American College of Physicians and director of the Community Based Teaching Project, said in a news release announcing the award.
The training program developed by White in conjunction with the Department of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and North Mississippi Medical Center, with which IMA is affiliated, allows two internal medicine residency students to spend a month observing and taking part in the day-to-day routine of a private practice.
Normally, medical students train exclusively in a hospital setting.
“With the trend toward more outpatient and ambulatory care, the medical center wanted to get residents some training in private practice,” said White, an Oxford native. “I was on the advisory committee, and they asked if any groups wanted to have a resident come up, and we happened to be the first to do that.”
Very few internal medicine training programs offer the opportunity to experience hands-on practice in a private clinic setting, he said.
“There have not been many in the country like it,” White said. “A year ago, only 5 percent of internal medicine training programs had private practice training.”
While training at the clinic, residents get to assist in diagnosing and treating patients as well as the less attractive side of the medical profession – paperwork.
“They get to do the little things they don’t get to do in large training hospitals,” White said. “Like write referral letters and learning to use the Dictaphone to dictate office memos, which is usually new to them. We show them the tremendous amount of paperwork they don’t get exposure to otherwise.”
While the program primarily benefits the medical student, it also helps in recruiting efforts for bringing new physicians to the area.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from residents down there,” White said of the UMC student body. “(The program) gives us an opportunity monthly to interview the residents and work with them and see if we like them.”
Since the program began, two former residents who went through it have returned to work at IMA, and three more former students are expected to join the staff this summer.