Colquitt Regional Medical Center is proud to announce that it’s new psychiatry residency program has received Initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), making it the first program of its kind in South Georgia.
“This is something we have been working towards since 2019 when we received a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish a psychiatry residency program,” said Colquitt Regional President and CEO Jim Matney. “HRSA’s grant and technical support, along with the unwavering commitment of our legislators made this program a possibility. Since the start of this journey, our primary focus has been on enhancing our physician workforce in the region by building a pipeline that trains and recruits physicians who are interested in practicing medicine in rural areas. To see our vision come to life, first with the family medicine residency, and now a psychiatry program, has been immensely rewarding. Training physicians has become a core part of our physician recruitment strategy and will protect and promote access to exceptional healthcare for generations to come.”
With this stamp of approval from the ACGME, Georgia South Psychiatry Residency Program will begin accepting applications and actively recruiting for its first class of residents. The inaugural class is set to begin in July 2022.
The Georgia South Psychiatry Residency Program follows a four-year track with three new residents each year. Residents will rotate through different specialties such as primary care, emergency psychiatry, neurology, inpatient psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and geriatric psychiatry, among others. They will also complete outpatient psychiatry rotations at partnering facilities, such as Colquitt Regional, Turning Point Hospital, Georgia Pines, the Colquitt County Jail, and Vandemark Psychiatry and Counseling.
“We have had overwhelming support from regional partners and physicians, committing to rotation experiences, lectures, and serving as faculty,” said Vice President of Medical Education Jessica Rivenbark. “From our earliest partnership with Turning Point, we worked to develop a rural psychiatry residency as an innovative approach to improving access to mental and behavioral health resources. A new residency program will bring research focused on rural mental health issues and will create opportunities for graduating residents to stay and practice. We know the medical education pipeline works, and adding psychiatry will enhance our ability to provide care and improved access to our region.”
Much like the Georgia South Family Medicine Residency Program, the psychiatry program will host weekly didactic sessions for residents, medical students, and staff physicians. These sessions will include lectures, which cover topics pertinent to the foundation of psychiatry, and also include published journal and case reviews, resident-led lectures, and board review.
“At Georgia South, we aim to provide our residents with a comprehensive approach to training,” said Program Director Dr. Lisa Rudolph-Watson. “We want our residents to be fully immersed in the type of environment and training that will lead them to be exceptional physicians in the field. They will gain expertise from hands-on experiences during rotations, weekly didactic sessions, working in-clinic with a psychiatrist, and everything in-between. This residency will significantly impact our region’s ability to provide high-quality care to those in need. I am proud of our accreditation, and I am looking forward to our first residency class.”
Joining Dr. Lisa Rudolph-Watson as faculty members are Dr. Teron Verma, Dr. Kent Posey, Dr. Muhammad Alam, Dr. James Drury, Dr. Robert Maydell, Dr. Wendy Vandemark, and Dr. Joe Morgan. Other support staff members include Residency Program Coordinator Kristoff Cohran, Institutional Coordinator Victoria Gallagher and Medical Education Administrator Jordan Key.
This new residency program is the latest in Colquitt Regional’s efforts to bring psychiatry services to South Georgia. In 2020, the hospital added a psychiatrist, Verma, to their medical staff and established Sterling Group Psychiatry, an outpatient psychiatry clinic. In addition, last year, Colquitt Regional implemented an Intensive Outpatient Program, Sterling Group Senior Wellness, that offers therapy in a group setting for those over 65 who are in need of behavioral and/or mental healthcare services. In March, the hospital anticipates opening a brand new inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit on the second floor.
“Access to mental health services in the state of Georgia is severely lacking,” said Hospital Authority Chairman Richard E. Turner, Jr. “Rural areas suffer even more by the shortage of psychiatric providers and programs available in our community. It is our hope that by training these physicians in Southwest Georgia, we can make a significant impact on mental healthcare in the region.”
Caption: Georgia South Psychiatry Residency Program recently received initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), making it the first program of its kind in South Georgia. Pictured are the faculty members of the new residency program. Top, from left: Dr. Lisa Rudolph-Watson, program director, Dr. Teron Verma, faculty, Dr. Kent Posey, faculty, Dr. Muhammad Alam, faculty. Bottom: from left: Dr. James Drury, faculty, Dr. Wendy Vandemark, faculty, Dr. Joe Morgan, faculty, and Dr. Robert Maydell, faculty.