BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) — The Navy’s newest board-certified family physicians are ready to join the fleet, following Naval Hospital Bremerton’s (NHB) Puget Sound Medicine Residency’s annual Family Medicine Resident Graduation Ceremony, June 26.
The Family Medicine Resident Graduation Ceremony showcased Navy Medicine’s strategic imperatives of readiness, value and jointness, by featuring four third-year residents became the Navy’s newest family physicians. Each new doctor will transfer shortly to a new duty stations throughout the fleet.
There were also six additional Family Medicine first-year residents who will be continuing their training. However, instead of returning to NHB, the majority will continue their education elsewhere.
“This is bittersweet. It’s a major milestone,” said Capt. Erik Schweitzer, NHB Family Medicine program director. “We’re saddened that they’re leaving. But the future is about change and these young naval medical officers will help shape that change. I am impressed and proud of them all. Navy Medicine is in good hands.”
Family Medicine third-year residents departing are Lt. Derek A. Austin, assigned to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in Norfolk; Lt Jacques M. Bouchard, assigned to Naval Branch Health Clinic, Iwakuni, Japan; Lt. William E. Michael, assigned to Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital in Twentynine Palms, California; and Lt. Katherine A. Snyder, assigned to Naval Health Center, Quantico, Virginia. Lt. Ruth E. Smith and Lt. Steven Elek, IV will continue in residency status until their graduations on Oct. 20 and Dec. 13, 2015, respectively.
“Our residents represent all that’s good about Navy Medicine. They also add to our legacy,” said Capt. Christopher Quarles, NHB Commanding Officer, who has served at NHB three times from intern to resident to his current status. “We are sending fully-trained and fully-skilled physicians across the globe to care for our service members.”
Quarles also noted that newly board-certified family physicians have always been an important part of the command’s overall mission of shaping military medicine through training, research, graduate medical education, joint efforts and collaborative partnerships.
“There is no better example of readiness than these new physicians who are now part of an exclusive fraternity,” he added. “I also thank their families and our faculty in helping make them the best in the world at their profession.”
Family Medicine first-year residents and the graduating intern class continuing their residency are Lt. Erik L. Anderson, at Flight Surgery, Pensacola, Florida.; Lt. Paul E. Flood, Jr., and Lt. Mary Elizabeth Ray, both at Dewitt Army Community Hospital, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.; Lt. Kay L. James, at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, California; Lt. Shawn M. Myers, at Valley Medical, Seattle, Washington; and Lt. Matthew J. Parrott, at NHB.
Continuing their residency are Lt. Eamon C. Keleher, Lt. Jeremy R. Kenison, Lt. Hy G. Pham, Lt. Cmdr. Ray-Bernard Portier, Lt. Janelle K. Riley, Lt. Timothy D. Wilcox, and Lt. Bryan E. Wooldridge.
The ceremony’s guest speaker, retired Rear Adm. Mike Anderson, a former faculty member of the Puget Sound Medicine Residency, stressed to the graduating physicians that there are three important things they need to remember as they continue on in their career.
“One: since the Gallup Poll started taking public opinion, physicians have consistently rated higher in honesty and ethical standards than many others such as clergy, lawyers and police officers. Doctors are the most trusted profession and carry greater weight. A physician doesn’t take short cuts with patient care,” he said. “Two: you have to continue to have your skills sharpened to a razor’s edge. Residency is just the start of our goals and maintaining your board certification is paramount. Three: I cannot overemphasize being committed to your community. You and your patients are part of that community. Seek ways to improve and practice family medicine in the community.”
Lt. Cmdr. Francesa Cimino, another former faculty member now serving at the White House, was also scheduled as a guest speaker, but duty called and her remarks were shared by Capt. Schweitzer.
According to Schweitzer, the graduate medical education (GME) program has had an essential role at NHB in maintaining Navy Medicine’s proficiency and readiness to support national operations stateside, overseas, aboard ships, with the Marine Corps and other fleet assets.
The NHB Residency program goes back to the initial years of 1982 to 1987 and then became Puget Sound Family Medicine Residency (PSFMR) in 1990 with three interns and two second year resident training officer. From that initial group, there have been a total of 189 residents and 125 graduates.
Dr. Ron Dommermuth, retired Navy captain and physician, has the longest tenure associated with the program. He went through his residency as a young Navy lieutenant from 1991 to 1994, and then returned as a staff physician, followed by assignments as assistant program director, program director, director of medical services and currently as a faculty physician in a civilian capacity.
This year’s graduating class is one of the last to be honored at NHB for the program will be slowly phased out with residents redistributed to other Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) through 2016.
The decision is based on a Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) hospital study conducted from 2011 to 2013 on nine Navy MTF’s across the U.S. The study evaluated the MTF patient population needs, which showed advances in clinical medicine along with technology, resulted in a migration of care from inpatient to predominately outpatient services and provided an opportunity to shift to ensure there is a correct mix of personnel and services to meet the needs of active duty service members, family members and retirees.
“The changes brought on by the hospital study were done to help consolidate Navy GME. This was never about quality training, and NHB has the accolades to prove it. While we are sad to lose our piece of Navy GME we will continue to look for opportunities with the Uniformed Services University of Health Services Family Nurse Practitioner program, perhaps Army GME, medical students and our many civilian students via our memorandum of understand(s) with the school,” Quarles said.
The Family Medicine Residency program at NHB has long been considered unique in that the residents train to become family physicians in a community hospital setting. In such an environment, the family medicine residents become primary physicians for their patients on all inpatient and outpatient services. Residents have also received additional experience in the Intensive Care Unit and Neonatal ICU at Madigan Army Medical Center and on the Pediatric Wards and Emergency Room at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, both in Tacoma, Wash. PSFMR also partners with the University of Washington Family Medicine Network which has been consistently rated the top training program in the country. In addition, PSFMR was rated as the top rotation site by UW medical students.
PSFMR traditionally has a total of 18 residents, usually averaging approximately six per year per group. The Family Medicine staff at NHB has received additional training in Faculty Development, with two having completed the two-year (U.S. Army) Madigan Fellowship. PSFMR staff and residents have been recognized by the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians for their research efforts, and they have been published in such noted medical journals as American Family Physician, The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, The Journal of Family Medicine and Military Medicine.
Navy News article By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs