More than 600 apply for OH family medicine residency program

Dr. Jon C. Sivoravong, Director, Family Medicine Residency Program

Owensboro Health's new family medicine residency program received 639 applications.

For six positions.

Health system officials narrowed the field to 97 who come from all over the nation. So far, 74 candidates have been interviewed.

The interview phase started Sept. 27 and will continue through Jan. 10, 2020, said Dr. Jon Sivoravong, program director and associate director with the University of Louisville School of Medicine's Family and Geriatric Medicine Department. The U of L School of Medicine established the OH residency program.

At one time, Sivoravong worked at a Fort Worth, Texas, health system that received 1,700 applications for 10 residency slots. However, that program was well-established.

OH's program received accreditation and started recruiting its first round of residents this spring.

"We were surprised we had a little over 600," Sivoravong said.

In February, he will submit his pick of graduates to the nation's rank order list. Students will do the same.

March 20, 2020, will be the all-important "match day," when a computer program will compare the lists and pair candidates with programs.

"It's like a dating process," Sivoravong said, referring to Match.com. "We are dating these students."

After the match is made, residency programs have 10 days to send out contracts.

Why were so many interested in OH's program?

First of all, it's common for a candidate to apply at multiple sites. Medical schools often recommend applying for up to 20 residency programs.

But more importantly, Sivoravong said, OH's residency program has an ace up its sleeve.

Across the nation, residency programs generally fall into one of two types: a university-based program with several hospitals and lots of residents or a community-based program that offers more one-on-one interaction with faculty.

"We are better," Sivoravong said. "We have a combination."

The partnership with U of L provides the benefits of a university program, such as access to specialists and research programs; however, with only six residency slots and one hospital, the OH program is small enough to offer more individualized post-doctorate training.

Also, OH's program can boast of another advantage, Sivoravong said. The entire health system uses the same electronic medical records system for inpatient and outpatient care. Some health systems have multiple programs, which reduce the ability to communicate effectively and can lead to issues with patient care.

"I think we can be the premier program for the state of Kentucky," Sivoravong said.

Candidates with ties to the state or region are especially desirable to OH. The main goal of the residency program is to grow the health system's own family medicine professionals. Studies show most doctors stay within a 50-mile radius of the cities in which they trained.

In its first year, the program will accept six residents. Six more will be added each year until the program hits 18. After the program matures, it is expected to stay at 18 residents because six will graduate each year and six will replace them.

Each of the candidates who are being interviewed visit Owensboro. During their stay, they receive a community tour.

He has interviewed residents from across the nation — California, Florida, Texas, New York and other states. Many have been Kentucky graduates.

"I've not heard negative feedback from anyone who has come here," Sivoravong said.

Residents receive a salary and benefits package, free meals in the physicians' lounge, a monthly housing stipend and membership at the OH Healthpark.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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