ACGME Approves Accreditation of Rural Training Track of Family Medicine Residency

A new Duke Health training program aimed at meeting primary care shortage needs in rural North Carolina has been approved by the ACGME Residency Review Committee. Now accredited, the program will enter the 2021 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Main Residency Match® with two spots.

The Rural Training Track—part of the Family Medicine Residency in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Duke University School of Medicine—is a collaboration with Duke Primary Care Oxford and Maria Parham Health, a Duke LifePoint hospital. Two residents who enter the Duke Family Medicine Residency will complete their first year of training alongside the other family medicine residents in Durham, then spend the vast majority of program years 2 and 3 in the rural North Carolina communities of Oxford and Henderson. The program plans to grow to four residents per year over the next five years.

Thomas Koinis, M.D., FAAFP, medical director for Duke Primary Care Oxford will serve as program director. Other faculty are Eric Buenviaje, M.D., associate program director, and Alexa Namba, DO, HS'19.

Maria Parham Health will serve as the program's rural community hospital, and Granville-Vance Public Health Department will also collaborate to strengthen primary care-public health partnerships.

“We are thrilled to receive approval for the Family Medicine Rural Track and are rapidly gearing up for this year’s Match to bring in the initial two residents to start the program,” says Koinis. “This accreditation is the result of hard work by multiple groups within Duke and I want to give everyone who lent a hand my sincere thanks.”

The Rural Training Track is designed to help meet the critical primary care shortage needs in rural North Carolina, and help expand Duke Health’s primary care footprint across the surrounding region, according to planning documents.

Health risk factors highly prevalent in rural communities in North Carolina include high unemployment, higher poverty rates and isolation, according to a report from the Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC-Chapel Hill. Paired with a shortage of health professionals in 82 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, these risk factors contribute to poorer health outcomes. Koinis also adds that many primary care providers in rural communities are older and nearing retirement. 

“Our rural areas in North Carolina and throughout the country are struggling with finding family medicine and other primary care physicians to serve their communities,” Koinis says. “I am very excited to offer this rural environment as a place for residents to train and develop as family physicians capable of caring for folks in underserved and under-resourced areas. One of my major goals will be to have residents learn and experience the joy and satisfaction of rural family medicine.”

The Department of Family Medicine & Community Health was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Residency Planning and Development Program in 2020 to support the creation of the track. Greg Sawin, M.D., MPH, vice chair for education and faculty development in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, serves as the PI for the award.

Information Sessions for Prospective Residents

Prospective residents interested in learning more about the Rural Training Track can attend one of two information sessions on Feb. 2 and 3. More information is available on the Rural Training Track website.