Wednesday, July 14, 2021

First Class of Rural Family Medicine Residents Graduates from St. Luke’s in Schuylkill County

The first class of residents graduated from St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Rural Training Track (RTT) Family Medicine program in June. 

Two residents, Sonya Elnaggar, MD, and Christine Lee, MD, received their diplomas during a graduation ceremony held June 17 at Schuylkill County’s Galen Glen Winery.

“Nationally, there is a shortage of family practitioners,” said Greg Dobash, MD Assistant Director and Faculty Member. “The shortage is even worse in rural areas. This program, the first of its kind in the state of Pennsylvania, is a way to help address this critical shortage.”

St. Luke’s started its Rural Family Medicine Residency based at the St. Luke’s Miners Campus in 2018, with the two residents. Currently, eight residents are enrolled in the three year program. “By July 2022, we will have 12,” Dobash added.

“The program targets residents with a desire to practice in rural settings such as beautiful Schuylkill and Carbon counties,” said Wendy Lazo, President of St. Luke’s Miners Campus President.

During their training, the residents are very involved in community outreach programs for underserved populations in the two-county region. While residents, Dr. Elnaggar and Dr. Lee provided health screenings for area veterans, sports physicals for local schoolchildren, and participated in overdose awareness events and health fairs in the region. “Our residents have served breakfast to local veterans on Veterans Day and provided medical care at local high school football games on Friday nights in the fall,” continued Lazo. “We really try to connect them not only to the health clinics, but also to the community and have them experience what it’s like to live in this area.”

Dobash said the graduation was appropriately held at the beautiful Galen Glen winery because it shows off the region’s amenities and quality of life.

“The program was an exceptionally positive experience,” Dr. Elnaggar said. “I loved everything about it, the faculty, the staff, the program directors, and I hope someday to be able to give back to the program that gave me so much especially during the pandemic and the difficult time it was.”

Lazo said, “We encourage other rural hospitals to consider starting a Rural Family Medicine Program because our rural communities have so much to offer and we know that physicians are more likely to practice where they train.”

Dr. Elnaggar hopes to join St. Luke’s University Health Network as a family physician. Dr. Lee will be returning to her home state of Florida to join a family practice there.

Photo of Sonya Elnaggar, MD

No comments:

Post a Comment