OHSU Launches First-of-its-Kind Rural Surgery Program

08/22/02    Grant PASS, Ore.

Surgical residents get hands-on experience while rural hospitals get much-needed help

Oregon Health & Science University is teaming up with Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass to promote a new concept in surgical training. The Rural Surgery Residency program is the only formal program of its kind in the country - putting young surgeons to work in the operating room of a rural hospital.

"Most fourth-year surgery residents are working in a lab doing research," said John Hunter, M.D., chairman of the Department of Surgery and professor of surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine. "In this program, residents get hands-on experience in a very structured and focused setting, and get to broaden their horizons by living in a rural setting."

Hunter created the Rural Surgery Residency program to help young surgeons get additional experience before they go into practice. As the population ages, many surgeons are nearing retirement age and young doctors will be called upon to fill the void. Hunter hopes to eventually expand this program to other rural communities.

Garrett Vangelisti, M.D., is the first resident to take part in the program. His one-year rural rotation includes surgical work in several areas: gynecology, orthopaedic, head and neck, general surgery and urology.

"In a rural hospital, there are doctors that handle all types of surgeries, and I get to learn from all of them," said Vangelisti.

"We want to show surgery residents that they can find work outside big cities," said Grants Pass surgeon David Oehling, M.D., who worked with OHSU to launch the program. "We have a state-of-the-art facility here in Grants Pass. Young surgeons have the opportunity to work with several specialty groups and an experienced staff."

Three Rivers Community Hospital is a member of the Asante Health System, a locally owned and governed, not-for-profit organization that also includes Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, Genesis Recovery Center in Central Point and Hearthstone in Medford.

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