CHI Health and Creighton University Partner to Combat Rural Physician Shortage with First-of-their-Kind Residency Programs

Just like the national nursing shortage, rural hospitals across the country are also facing staffing challenges. CHI Health and its academic medical partner, Creighton University School of Medicine, have created two first-of-their-kind residency programs to give new graduates experience in both urban and rural areas of Nebraska. The programs are now open to applicants and its first physicians will be selected in March 2023.

As part of these programs, CHI Health and Creighton’s Office of Graduate Medical Education have created hybrid rural tracks for Internal medicine residents and psychiatry residents. Those accepted will spend half of their residency training at CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center - Bergan Mercy in Omaha. The other half of their residency will be spent at CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney.

"The need for physicians practicing internal medicine and psychiatry continues to grow in our rural communities," said Dr. Cary Ward, CHI Health Chief Medical Officer. "As the largest healthcare provider in Nebraska, CHI Health is proud to partner with Creighton University on these rural track programs to train great physicians - many of whom we hope will continue to serve these communities in the years to come."

In Nebraska, 34 percent of the population lives in rural areas, which is much higher than the national average. According to the rural health information hub, rural communities in Nebraska see higher death rates from cancers, lung disease, heart disease, strokes, trauma and higher diabetes rates when compared to Nebraska Metro areas. The graphic shows all dark blue counties have a shortage of health care workers. The two rural track programs aim to increase access to health care in these underserved communities.

"I am excited to bring our excellent training programs in Internal Medicine and Psychiatry," said Dr. Joann Porter, ACGME Designated Institutional Officer and Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education for the Creighton University School of Medicine. "Our residents will benefit from learning from some of the best doctors in those communities and the community will benefit from attracting more ‘home grown’ doctors to stay and practice. This will be great synergy and help one of the biggest health disparities in Nebraska and Iowa."

Rural track programs are not new, but these hybrid programs are. They are not only the first of their kind in Nebraska, but they are the first in the country to gain the designation as an accredited rural track program by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) where all medical residents gain both urban and rural experience with more than half of the education and training taking place in rural areas.