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Rural residency program flourishing in Grants Pass

For the past eight years, the Department of Surgery’s General Surgery residency program and our Affiliate Faculty in Grants Pass have mutually flourished from the Grants Pass rural program. The one-year program allows for OHSU General Surgery residents to live, learn and work in Grants Pass.

Grants Pass is located approximately 250 miles south of OHSU and is home to around 33,000 people. According to Mark Deatherage, MD, Affiliate Professor, Department of Surgery, Grants Pass Surgical Associates, the Grants Pass program has proven to be mutually beneficial to both the OHSU residents who have completed the rural program and the surgical faculty in the rural town.

Since the inception of the program eight years ago, every surgeon in Grants Pass has come together to work with OHSU residents, giving the residents an opportunity to work with surgeons of varying surgical specialties while also providing a sense of renewal and rejuvenation for the surgical educators of Grants Pass.

According to Dr. Deatherage, the introduction of OHSU general surgery residents into the Grants Pass surgical scene has added an overall “positive boost” to the practice of surgery there. For our OHSU residents, the Grants Pass rural program sheds light on a new way of experiencing and providing healthcare. For many of our residents who complete the program, a one-year opportunity in Grants Pass develops into a desire to begin a career in rural health.  

What initially began as an elective year for one resident has evolved into an optional experience for two residents, whose year in Grants Pass counts as the fourth year of their general surgery residency and provides them with skills and perspectives not generally obtained in most programs. Alexis Alexandridis, M.D., and Terah Isaacson, M.D., OHSU’s two most recent Grants Pass residents, explain some of the aspects that made their year so valuable:

“Our year in Grants Pass was an incredible experience. We were immediately welcomed into the surgical family at Three Rivers Community Hospital and hit the ground running. The operative experience is amazing, no doubt, but it was the "whole package” – the real continuity of care, the relationships with our patients – that really opened my eyes. In a small town, you are literally living with your patients: you see them at the Saturday Grower's Market and the Josephine County Fair, and they thank you for all of your efforts, sometimes in the form of freshly caught salmon.”
Alexis Alexandridis, M.D.
General Surgery Resident
“The Rural Surgery Program gives residents an experience like no other. You get to be involved in the care of the surgical patient as a whole and realize the importance of each step including pre-operative evaluation, operative planning and post-operative management. You become aware of different practice styles and learn about issues related to the practice of surgery that you would otherwise not encounter. Some examples are the importance of peer physician relationships, the specifics of how reimbursement works in the clinic and hospital setting, and the importance of being aware of proper billing and coding. The surgeon mentors take a genuine interest in seeing you succeed and become your closest advisors in determining the next step of your surgical career.”
Terah Isaacson, M.D.
General Surgery Resident

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