Published on June 24, 2021

New Residency Rural Track Program in Alpena

MidMichigan Health is expanding its Family Medicine Residency Program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland to include a new rural training track for residents at the Medical Center in Alpena. MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena is working in conjunction with the Residency Program and Michigan Doctors (MIDOCs). MIDOCs is a collaborative program with the medical schools at Central Michigan University College of Medicine, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.

MIDOCs is state-funded and has worked with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on the development of the program to accomplish its goal of recruiting, training and retaining providers interested in practicing in rural and urban underserved communities throughout Michigan. Their goal aligns well with the MidMichigan Health’s purpose of Creating Healthy Communities – Together.

MIDOCs residents are selected through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) process, which opens each fall. Medical students’ interview, and MIDOCs positions are filled through the Main Residency Match the following spring with contract signing in July. All MIDOCs residency programs meet the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Educations (ACGME) requirements.

Midland/Alpena Rural Track Program Residents, Christian Grant, M.D. and David Westphal, M.D.

Midland/Alpena Rural Track Program Residents, (left to right) Christian Grant, M.D. and David Westphal, M.D.

Candidates for the Midland/Alpena Rural Track program have been selected and will begin in July 2021. Christian Grant, M.D., is from Bay City, Mich. He earned his undergraduate degree from Saginaw Valley State University and medical degree from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. He enjoys hockey, playing the piano, and collecting books and watches. David Westphal, M.D., is from Roscommon, Mich. He earned his undergraduate degree and a Master’s of Public Health from Michigan State University and his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. He enjoys board games, skiing, hiking, 3D printing and disc golf.

Richard Bates, M.D., regional president of medical affairs, MidMichigan Health, explains the value of the expansion of the Midland Family Medicine Residency Program in Alpena. “This program has multi-faceted benefits,” said Bates. “For one, it gives new doctors who are interested in practicing in rural areas the chance to train in those environments. And the hope is, they remain to build a practice when they’re done.”

Rural residency programs have proven to have the best rate of retention when it comes to the likelihood of physicians staying in the area. Dr. Bates states that even if the residents choose to practice at an organization other than MidMichigan Health, it still benefits the community at large.

“MidMichigan Health has always been committed to supplying rural communities across our service regions with excellent patient care from the best of the best. This program will help us expand upon that in Alpena,” he said. “We continue working with our Federally Qualified Health Center (FHQC) partners such as Alcona Health Center and Thunder Bay Community Health Service, Inc., to support excellent care for local residents. Adding top-notch family physicians to the Alpena area is a win for everyone.”

Thomas Thornton, M.D., vice president of medical affairs, MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena, and his team look forward to working with this expanded program in the Alpena area. “The providers at MidMichigan Medical Center – Alpena, as well as the providers at our local FQHCs, have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to have resident physicians training in our area,” he stated. “Despite our distance from what are considered to be traditional academic centers, our providers are excited about the teaching opportunities and are committed to training new physicians. The MIDOC program is an excellent opportunity for them to do just that.”

Medical students looking for more information about the Family Medicine Residency Program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland and the Rural Track Program, may contact Kelly Hill, M.D., program director, Family Medicine Residency Program at (877) 509-1794.