Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center celebrates Rural Health Day, November 18, 2021, by highlighting the partnerships and staff members who make our ECU Rural Residency Family Medicine program possible.
Established in 2020, RCCHC’s Rural Residency program is a partnership between East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine (ECU BSOM), Vidant Medical Center, Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center and Goshen Medical Center in Duplin County. It has the combined mission of providing an opportunity for medical school graduates to develop the skillset necessary to meet the unique needs of rural, underserved populations, as well as addressing the shortage of primary care providers in rural Eastern North Carolina.
“We have achieved this mix of ‘right stuff’,” says ECU BSOM Rural Program Director, Dr. Audy Whitman, “through a collaborative partnership that couples the academic resources of a medical school that is a national leader in primary care, the cutting edge and technological resources of one of the largest hospitals and health systems in the country, and the state-of-the-art primary care clinics diligently working to provide access to care and improve healthcare outcomes on the front lines in rural health professional shortage areas throughout the East.”
Residents will be with RCCHC for three years. The majority of the first year they receive training at Vidant Medical Center and ECU’s Family Medicine Center in Greenville. The final two years are spent training at Ahoskie Comprehensive Care by providing care for patients under the supervision of RCCHC Rural Residency Site Director and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Geniene Jones.
“We're honored that the RCCHC is a main teaching site for our Rural Family Medicine Residency.” Shares ECU BSOM and Vidant Medical Center Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education, Herbert G. Garrison, MD, MPH “In addition to being a model for exemplary health care, RCCHC is an integral part of Ahoskie and the region, which facilitates our rural resident physicians becoming part of the community."
RCCHC residents, Dr. Raza Syed and Dr. Zeel Shah, have been with the health center since July 2021.
“The ECU Rural Family Medicine Residency program gives our resident physicians an immersive training experience,” explains Dr. Geniene Jones, “They will have the opportunity to see, first hand, the actual positive impact they can have as medical providers on the community in which they serve.”
Dr. Shah, who is originally from Toronto, Canada, says she had a desire to work in a rural area because, “There are a multitude of contributing factors that impact an individual's health. It's not just about the medicine but also access to medicine and unique barriers that are present in rural areas. Working in a smaller town allows me to get to know my patients on a deeper level and truly have a better understanding of the factors that impact their lives.”
A native of North Carolina and former ECU student, Dr. Syed says he saw rural medicine as an, “opportunity to grow as a clinician with patient volume as well as a variety of pathologies.” He also sees the community as part of the positive learning experience, “The community is extremely willing to make sure we get many opportunities to learn and are well-rounded clinicians.”
“The Rural Residency is bringing the best doctors to train right here in Ahoskie.” says RCCHC CEO Kim Schwartz, “When doctors are exposed to working with rural populations serving all patients regardless of their ability to pay, it sets a course for their career to continue in this way. So, essentially, we are growing our future doctors for our region right here!”
About Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center. RCCHC has five clinic locations, providing care for over 16,000 patients in Washington, Hertford, Bertie, Northampton and Gates counties. RCCHC’s mission is to serve the community’s diverse health needs and reduce health disparities in the region. Services offered include primary care, pediatrics, behavioral health, in-house pharmacies, and dental services (provided by the ECU School of Dental Medicine.) Services are available to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.