Apr. 10—HIGH POINT — High Point Medical Center, which has a long history of providing educational opportunities for nursing students and other undergraduates in the health care field, is expanding its graduate medical education program.
"For High Point Medical Center, this is something we've never had before, having these training programs for MDs coming out into practice," said Dr. James Hoekstra, president of the medical center. "It's going to have amazing benefits, not just for patients, but also for the community."
The hospital, an affiliate of Wake Forest Baptist Health since 2018, already has implemented postgraduate programs at the residency and fellowship levels in such fields as podiatry, vascular surgery, cardiology, pain management, critical care, epilepsy and cardiothoracic surgery. Teaching services are also being added in such areas as general surgery, gynecology and internal medicine, Hoekstra said.
"The biggest expansion will be in internal medicine," he said. "We currently have one internal medicine teaching service at High Point — it's been in place since last July — and we're going to expand to three services. Each service will take care of approximately 15 to 20 patients on any given day."
The educational programs fall under the leadership of Dr. Kinchit Shah, an internist at High Point Medical Center who coordinates education for all residents coming to the hospital.
"He's an absolute zealot for medical education — he loves it," Hoekstra said.
Expansion of the graduate medical education program will inherently bring with it a number of benefits, including improved patient care, he said.
"In order to teach, you've got to be good at what you do, so you're typically going to be teaching cutting-edge care," he said.
"You're not just providing the service, you're teaching someone else how to do it, so it's going to step up everybody's game for the services we provide. And we'll be providing better care for patients, because they'll have two or sometimes even three doctors taking care of them. It's a better clinical care experience for patients, and there will be a much higher patient satisfaction."
Furthermore, Hoekstra said, the expansion will instill a sense of pride — not only among hospital employees, but within the High Point community, too.
"People can say, 'My hospital that I go to is a teaching hospital — it's got the best doctors, the best learners, it's on the forefront,' " he said. "This is a pride thing for us, too. We're proud of the care we give, and if we're proud of it, why shouldn't we teach other people how to do it?"
Postgraduate programs can also provide a pipeline of future health care providers who might choose to practice in High Point.
"It becomes a recruiting tool for us," Hoekstra said. "They find out that High Point is great, and they want to stay here and practice. You can't do that with medical-school students, because they go off to their residencies. But if you're training a resident, and if they like it here, they might stay, and suddenly we have an influx of high-quality practicing doctors in our community."
Hoekstra said expanding the graduate medical education program represents a significant step up for High Point Medical Center.
"When you put all these factors together, you can understand why it's so important," he said. "It elevates us from being a community hospital to being an academic medical center."
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