Family Medicine Residency Program Update

Skagit Regional Health Announces Changes to the Graduate Medical Education Program

MOUNT VERNON – Skagit Regional Health is making changes to the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program, beginning in July 2020. Over the next three years, the organization will gradually sunset the Family Medicine Residency program, supporting the program fully until all current Family Medicine residents have completed training and are board eligible. The Internal Medicine Residency program and Pacific Northwest University student rotations will continue unchanged.

“We are saddened by this decision, but our faculty remain committed to supporting our current Family Medicine residents and ensuring the same high-quality program we have developed over the past seven years,” said Family Medicine Residency Director, Julie Merriam, DO. “Patients will continue to see residents at Skagit Valley Hospital and at the Family Medicine Residency Clinic over the next three years.”

The decision to sunset the Family Medicine Residency program was made after careful consideration, following ongoing challenges meeting the requirements necessary to transition the Family Medicine program from an American Osteopathic Association (AOA) certification to an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) certification. All AOA programs are required to transition to ACGME within the next two years.

“We made significant efforts to meet the ACGME requirements, including downsizing the program and making capital investments in the residents’ clinics and GME space,” said Chief Medical Officer and Designated Institutional Officer for GME, Connie Davis, MD. “The structure of inpatient care at Skagit Regional Health and our facilities cannot be set up in ways that are conducive to meeting all of the ACGME Family Medicine program requirements for the long-term.”

Skagit Regional Health is experiencing the same challenges facing many community hospitals with a Family Medicine GME focus. Since the transition period began in 2015, 12% of previous AOA Family Medicine programs have been unable to receive, or have chosen not to pursue, ACGME accreditation. At this time, 96 previous AOA Family Medicine programs are awaiting ACGME review for continued accreditation, meaning the long-term sustainability of these programs is still unknown. “This isn’t a funding shortage or a financially driven decision,” said Dr. Davis. “This is an unintended consequence of a singular accreditation process.”

While Skagit Regional Health has decided to sunset the Family Medicine Residency program, they maintain their commitment to remain a teaching hospital by continuing to offer the Internal Medicine Residency program. “In making this difficult decision, we remain focused on ensuring the long term success of our GME program,” said Chief Executive Officer, Brian Ivie. “We understand that our GME program is a valuable resource to this community and we plan to take all necessary steps to ensure that it remains strong for many years to come. This is an unfortunate but necessary step in that process.”