A new program at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) is attracting podiatry students from across the country who want to train with an outstanding medical staff in a rural hospital. The new podiatry surgical residency program, which launched earlier this year, began with two recent graduates, Dr Vu Nguyen from Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA, and Dr Michael Banh from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
The two newly minted podiatrists will work closely during their three-year stint with Dr William Sarchino, the program director. Dr. Sarchino is a local podiatrist based in Bennington and Greenwich, N.Y. He is a member of American Podiatric Medical Association, a fellow of the American Academy of Wound Healing, and is the president of the American College of Lower Extremity Surgeons. Sarchino, who has taught in England and holds a medical license there, also is a well-known author of scientific papers on podiatric surgery.
“SVMC is an excellent training ground for podiatry students,” Sarchino explained. “We have a wide range of surgical and medical specialties and a level of expertise rarely found in community hospitals.” He explained that the residents’ primary focus will be surgical and primary podiatry. However, they also will rotate through various specialties, such as podiatry, anesthesiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, general surgery, infectious disease, orthopedic surgery, and others. Working closely with board-certified physicians in these specialties, the podiatry residents will broaden their experience with medicine. They also will take part on clinical rotations at hospitals in New York and Illinois.
As with most health care specialties, podiatrists are in short supply. In rural areas, Sarchino explained, the shortage is even more acute. In addition, there also is a shortage of residency programs for training newly graduated podiatrists. According to the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, for the 2013-14 training year, 16 percent of eligible graduates were not able to find a residency program.
“SVMC’s residency program allows residents to take part in the full range of patient care from the initial examination, surgical intervention, and postoperative care,” explained first-year resident, Dr. Banh. The residents share a close relationship with committed staff members and the residency rotations incorporate a wide range of general medical and surgical experience.”
Dr. Vu, a first-year resident from California, echoed his colleague’s sentiments: “SVMC is a wonderfully friendly place where the medical staff and nurses are ready and willing to teach.
“The rural area also offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and fishing, which are among my favorite ways to spend my free time,” he added.
Tom Dee, the president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, the hospital’s parent organization, said that he hopes the residency program will help to bring more podiatry providers to the Bennington area. “Doctors often choose to stay in an area where they train,” Dee explained. “By providing an excellent education for these residents, we hope that a few of them will choose to settle here permanently.”
SVMC has six total residency slots, two for each year of the program. When Nguyen and Banh finish their first year of training, they will move on to their second-year residency at SVMC. The hospital will then bring on two new first-year residents. By year three, Nguyen and Banh will be in their third year, and SVMC will have a full complement of residents.
“From nurse and x-ray training programs to residency programs such as this, having students at SVMC is good for our patients and staff,” Dee added. “Students bring a different perspective and help us look at how we provide care in a fresh light. We learn from them as much as they learn from us.”