New residency program aimed to keep doctors in Chippewa Valley

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A new residency program at Mayo Clinic Health System -Eau Claire is expected to reduce a state-wide shortage of primary care physicians.

In 2011, researchers from the Wisconsin Hospital Association predicted a shortage of more than 2,000 doctors by 2030.

On Wednesday the Mayo Clinic Health System received a $750,000 grant from the State Department of Health Services. The money will be used to start a new family medicine residency program.

“There is a significant need for the training of more family practitioners and to deliver more primary care through-out Wisconsin but particularly in rural,” said Dr. Randall Linton, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System’s northwest Wisconsin region.

During the program physicians in training will see patients at Mayo Clinic Health System sites in rural areas like Barron, and Rice Lake.
Dr. Linton says the long term idea behind the program is to keep doctors in the Chippewa Valley.

"We know that the data shows that a significant numbers of physicians complete their training stay within 100 miles radius where they train. So having their training more local we think will help meet some of the shortages that exist in this part of our state,” Dr. Linton said.

Lieske Giese with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department says having a primary care doctor is important for your long-term health.

"Family Practitioners really provide that on-going care and support for basic care for prevention and making sure someone stays healthy rather than waiting for problems to come up,” Giese said.

She says treating problems can cost a lot of money so focusing on prevention is the key to staying healthy.

“If we have people in this community working on prevention and primary care we really have an opportunity to keep people healthy and save money,” said Giese.

The program will start in 2017, and the first graduating class from the program will be in 2020.