“It's called a Continuity Care Clinic,” said director Dr. Terry Johnson. “So I train family practitioners here. Last year we graduated four who are all out in the community now. And they all happened to be OU (Ohio University) students, and they all happened to be local, and they went back in our area.”
Johnson said, except, on the rare occasions when doctors sign an agreement with the state, the doctors trained at the facility are free to go anywhere after their training.
“Basically, the people we see are free agents,” he said. “They can go to California, South Carolina, anywhere.”
Johnson said the process at the clinic includes a third-year medical student program, fourth-year internship and residency, all done at the Family Practice Center. “Now they're loyal ‘docs' and they're staying in our area,” he said.
Johnson said the training consists of interns, first-year doctors, who are supervised very closely by family practice residents, who are there for two years after internships. Those residents receive moderate supervision, and are basically turned loose with Johnson's supervision the third year.
Because Johnson is an assistant dean at OU, he also has medical students from OU.
“So that gives me undergraduate responsibilities, and then I have my graduates that I take at this clinic,” he said. “This clinic is purely a training clinic, and so, depending on what level they're at. I get different levels of responsibility.”
Johnson said he does not see patients himself because of Medicare regulations.
“Because what happens there is, you have people, who in the past, would have had their own log of patients, and they have resident's they're supposed to be supervising, and they're doubling the income of the clinic,” he said. “But they're not really teaching anybody anything.”
Johnson said the clinic has a lot of patients, but they are seen by the other doctors, and only when it arises to a certain level of involvement does he have to go in and do the exam with the doctor. Johnson said that situation is rare. “Most of the stuff they handle themselves, and they report every case to me and we go over it,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the clinic also generates its own income.
“The way the residents in training are actually funded comes through the government, through Medicare,” he said. “So the hospital actually gets paid to train, and then this clinic produces an income, so the whole thing roughly breaks even.”
Johnson said the plus factor about the training doctors receive at the SOMC Lucasville Family Practice Center is the variety of specialties they will be trained in.
“They're trained on all of them. The surgery, pulmonology, everything in the hospital, even emergency medicine, and then three or four days a week they are out here seeing their own log of patients with me, and I train them how to be family practitioners,” Johnson said. “And they work very closely with all the doctors in town.”
Johnson also is happy about his relationship with Shawnee State University.
“It has been very productive. This year some people that I had some contact with have come out here and shadowed,” he said.
Johnson said the pre-med program at SSU is well-respected in the state.
“It's as good as any place you're going to get,” Johnson said. “So when these kids train in pre-med, OU says, ‘We like Shawnee State students.”
Johnson said he has a feeder system that networks students from SSU to OU, to training at Lucasville, and hopefully back into the southern Ohio area.
“Five Shawnee State students are starting in at OU this year, and I have a good chance of getting them back here,” he said.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.