Akron General solidifies its No. 1 position
By Terry Troy
Cleveland Clinic Akron General Hospital is increasing its residency programs by 30% by the year 2024—further solidifying its standing as the lead hospital in the Akron Metropolitan area. Akron General is rated as the No. 1 hospital in the Akron Metropolitan area and the No. 14 hospital in Ohio for 2019/2020 according to the U.S. News & World Report,
The move follows an announcement early in July that the hospital was awarded a $1 million grant from Summit County for the hospital’s Centering Pregnancy program.
Prior to 2018, 138 residents were training at Akron General. This grew to 153 in the 2020-2021 academic year, which began July 1, and will reach 177 by 2024.
The biggest growth will come from Akron General’s decision to start a psychiatry residency program. Akron General had its own program many years ago but shifted to participating in a shared program with several other local hospitals in the 1970s.
“We are pleased to be growing our already-robust graduate medical education program,” says Dr. Titus Sheers, chairman of medical education and research at Akron General. “We are fulfilling our commitment to prepare future physicians, especially in the important and in-demand area of primary care.
“Everyone recognized that we need more mental health professionals in our community,” adds Sheers. “This is the first completely new residency program created at Akron General in several decades, and we have put a great deal of time and effort into its creation to make sure we are doing it right.”
The new psychiatry program will have four residents in each of its four years of training, with the first group starting in July of 2021. When it is fully implemented with 16 participants, it will double the number of trained psychiatrists graduating in Akron each year. The program is being led by Dr. Rajesh Tampi, chair of the psychiatry department at Akron General.
At the same time, Akron General is also expanding its OB-GYN residency program, from four residents per year (in a four-year program) to five per year starting with this year’s class. That program is directed by Dr. Natalie Bowersox.
“We know the community needs more clinicians who are dedicated to reducing infant mortality and addressing overall women’s health care needs and not just those around pregnancy,” Sheers says.
Akron General’s Family Medicine residency program is also growing by two more spots this summer, as the Transformative Care Continuum program, a partnership with Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) that offers compressed training program (three years of medical school and three years of primary care residency), enters its clinical years.
Last year, the hospital expanded its traditional Family Medicine and Internal Medicine training programs by two each in the program’s first year and two each in the second year and is looking to expand them even further in the future.
Akron General also offers residency in emergency medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery and urology, and advanced training fellowships in breast surgery, oncology and vitreoretinal and ocular trauma. Multiple pharmacy programs, including critical care, are also offered.
Akron General hosts more than 750 medical student rotations each year, with students participating from medical schools across the country, as well as numerous nursing student rotations.
“We greatly appreciate our organization’s very strong commitment to funding education of the next generation of medical providers, a tradition which goes back to the founding of Akron General,” says Sheers, noting that Akron General was able to acquire 10 of the 20 federally funded resident education spots that became available after Affinity Medical Center in Massillon closed in 2018.
Changes due to COVID-19 that are being incorporated into Akron General’s programs include more training in how to work virtually, doing things such as conducting patient exams, rounding, teaching and consulting with colleagues.
“We want our trainees to leave here ready to take care of all patients going forward in this new era, and do it well,” says Sheers.
The $1 million grant to Cleveland Clinic Akron General’s Centering Pregnancy program is designed to increase access to prenatal care for women who have been affected by substance use disorder.
“We are grateful to be able to offer Centering Pregnancy to our community and especially to those women impacted by substance abuse. Locally and nationally, Centering Pregnancy has improved outcomes for mothers and babies,” says Dr. Jennifer Savitski, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Akron General. “We are pleased to receive this award and would like to thank the Summit County Opioid Abatement Advisory Council for supporting this important initiative.”
Funding for the grant was made available by a legal settlement from Johnson & Johnson to reduce the devastation of the opioid epidemic in Summit County.
Centering Pregnancy is a national program in which women who have due dates near one another gather in small groups with a doctor or a nurse to discuss issues that affect their health and that of their babies. Topics can include nutrition, stress management, labor and delivery, and infant care. Akron General partners on the program with the AxessPointe Women’s Health Center.