The vast landscape of healthcare is ever-changing. From year to year, hospitals adapt to healthcare reforms, reimbursements, new medical technology, and advancements, but the one thing that never changes is the passion that doctors, nurses and other clinicians have in helping others. Many may not realize, but our community is growing with a host of new doctors with just that passion, and they are calling Sampson County home as they complete their medical residency with Sampson Regional Medical Center’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) Program.
Under the direction of Dr. John-Mark Miller, D.O., Director of Graduate Medical Education, Sampson Regional has become a teaching facility for medical students and post-graduate academic training. “Training at Sampson Regional offers a unique opportunity for medical students and residents to learn rural medicine in a progressive, community-based medical facility. They train alongside some of the best primary care physicians and specialists in our community,” stated Dr. Miller.
Since the GME program received its first class of dermatology residents in 2014, its programs have grown to include a Transition Year Internship (TRI) and Family Medicine Residency. Across the programs, more than 23 doctors have entered into training, with an additional four new doctors scheduled to join the Family Medicine program, four to join TRI, and two new dermatology residents in July. The development of residency programs, specifically the Family Medicine program, is a strategic effort by Sampson Regional to increase physician recruitment to rural communities. “By bringing residents to Sampson Regional, we not only increase the physician base for our community, but we have also found that these doctors are embedding not only themselves but their families into the community through participation in community events, churches, school functions, sports, and volunteer opportunities,” added Dr. Miller.
One physician doing just that is Dr. Dylon Howard, D.O. Dr. Howard is a second-year resident in Sampson Regional Medical Center’s (SampsonRMC) Family Medicine Program. Dr. Howard shared what originally attracted him to SampsonRMC’s GME Program was the opportunity to practice rural medicine. “I was looking for a rural, community-based residency program that would simulate how I wanted to practice in the future. Also, being from a small town myself, I wanted to raise my family in a small, tight knit community,” said Dr. Howard.
Dr. Howard moved across country from Oklahoma with his wife, Kimber, and their one-year old son, Cal. He spoke to the friendliness of his colleagues, community members, and his patients. “A big thing that attracted me and continues to make me enjoy my training is the friendliness of my patients and colleagues,” stated Dr. Howard. Dr. Howard spoke to his community involvement outside of SampsonRMC and the personal support that he and his family have received. “SampsonRMC has been extremely inclusive to my family which has been unique in compared to other residencies. We were immediately embraced by multiple families in town that have become dear to us.”
A move across the country can be challenging for anyone. SampsonRMC has found unique ways to assist GME Residents and Interns in making that transition easier. By getting involved, the Howards have found a church to attend and participate in many community events. “We enjoy taking walks downtown, spending the afternoon in the public library, and go see shows at the local theater. Also, there are some great coffee shops that we visit frequently.”
When residents join SampsonRMC for their training, it often means young families making a transition, too. Sharing personally about her transition, Kimber said she would highly recommend Sampson County to future residents, interns, and their spouses. “The transition has been great. I’m a stay at home mom and was very concerned about being able to find kids my son’s age. I told a couple of ladies at the hospital about my concerns and they immediately set us up with play dates,” said Mrs. Howard. This led to the formation of new relationships and connections within the community for the Howards. “Now, we’re extremely close with several families and are busy with social events. I absolutely would recommend the community to other spouses. This is our second home and the friends we’ve made are like family,” she continued.Even in its beginning stages, the hospital’s GME Program is already positively impacting SampsonRMC, the patient population, and our community. With future growth, we anticipate seeing new residents, interns, and their families making homes, building lives, and contributing to our community.