CARBONDALE -- A new opportunity has presented itself for SIU School of Medicine students at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.
The SIU School of Medicine General Surgery Residency Program has teamed up with Southern Illinois Healthcare to send third and fourth year general surgery residents to Southern Illinois hospitals to gain experience and learn from surgeons in a rural setting.
Dr. Satyadeep Bhattacharya, colorectal surgeon and Southern Illinois assistant program director for the residency program, said this program is something that is great for Southern Illinois and SIH. He said he is excited to teach and share his experiences with the next generation of physicians.
“We have never really had a surgical residency program here,” he said. “A big part of who you are as a physician is also training and teaching the next generation.”
The SIU School of Medicine starts in Carbondale, but after the first year, residents are sent to Springfield to finish their residency at the SIU School of Medicine extension.
The program began July 1 and Bhattacharya said it allows residents to be exposed to a rural setting with a significant need for surgery services. Each resident will work a one- or two-month rotation and they return to their home hospital.
Each resident will have an opportunity to work in all three hospitals in the SIH network: Memorial, Herrin Hospital, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro and also, the Physicians' Surgery Center in Carbondale.
“We are very excited to expand our residents' experiences to include physician teachers from a more rural setting,” Bhattacharya said. “Our ultimate goal is to make sure our residents are exposed to all types of practices and as many surgical cases a possible before entering the work force.”
Dr. Jaclyn Wierzbicki is the first resident to make the trip from Springfield to Carbondale to participate in the program. She is interested in general surgery practice and she would like to eventually break into a private practice setting.
She said coming to Southern Illinois was exciting because she is the only resident in the program and all the experiences would be exclusive to her.
“I have had a great experience and all of the surgeons and physicians I have interacted with have been very welcoming,” she said. “I am having a great time.”
Program Director in Springfield John Mellinger said SIU is excited to work with the SIH network and surgeons.
"I am very pleased we are doing this," he said. "This is going to be good on many fronts."
Mellinger said the opportunity for SIU residents to spend time in a rural setting and surgeons dedicated to the needs of it population is an important way of living out its mission to serve the needs of Central and Southern Illinois.