Pine Rest residency program boasts ‘almost unprecedented’ retention rate


Form over eight years ago, the psychiatry residency program at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services has paid dividends by helping to alleviate an acute shortage of providers and expand services.

Of the 17 psychiatry residents and fellows who completed their training at Pine Rest this year, 16 chose to remain in West Michigan to practice. Nearly two-thirds accepted a position with Pine Rest after completing their residency, while the remainder chose to practice with another area care provider.

The retention rate is about double the amount that physician residency programs typically experience, said Pine Rest chief medical officer Dr. Bill Sanders.

Bringing more mental health professionals to market was Pine Rest’s goal when launching the Psychiatry Residency Program in 2014. The results easily exceeded expectations and allowed Pine Rest to expand its care services mental health, including the opening of a psychiatric urgent care center for three years. from.

The program’s retention rate for new psychiatrists is “nearly unprecedented,” Sanders said. Pine Rest had “really had a hard time in the past getting doctors into western Michigan,” he said.

“There’s no way we could have predicted how well things were going to turn out. When we started the program, we thought, ‘God, we’d be lucky to train six residents a year. It’s 12 a year just in terms of the general residency program, and we have residency programs in sub-specialties on top of that,” Sanders said. “It just improved behavioral health care for patients “, not just here at Pine Rest, but the entire community. Our residents rotate through many different sites. To see the high level of health care in the community is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

carry the burden

Beyond the Cutlerville Urgent Care Center which served more than 13,500 patients and had nearly 17,300 visits to the center in its first three years, Pine Rest used psychiatry residents to expand care in areas such as the treatment of children and adolescents and substance use disorders. Additionally, psychiatry residents enable Pine Rest to provide more integrative care, providing consultation to primary care physicians, federally licensed health centers, and community mental health agencies.

Pine Rest recently added a rural residency track in Traverse City to train psychiatrists in northern Michigan, where the shortage of psychiatrists is even more acute.

Psychiatry residents have better enabled Pine Rest to respond to significantly high incidence rates during the COVID-19 pandemic for conditions such as anxiety and depression and substance use disorders. At any given time, more than 50 residents and fellows now work at Pine Rest.

“That’s a lot of doctors to help with the burden,” Sanders said.

“It’s weird to think: in eight short years, where would we be without the residents? Where would we be without them?” he added. “They have become an invaluable part of our range of services.”

Students graduating from medical school who choose to major in psychiatry complete a four-year residency, plus an additional year or two in fellowship if entering a subspecialty such as drug addiction, forensics, children and adolescence or geriatrics.

Pine Rest has just completed his third residency in psychiatry. Since the inception of the program through a partnership with University of Michigan‘s College of Human Medicine, 50 psychiatry residents have completed their training at Pine Rest, a “significant number” of whom have chosen to stay and practice at Pine Rest or in western Michigan.

The 51 psychiatry residents currently at Pine Rest have come from 18 different states to complete their residency.

“Michigan is kind of a net exporter of doctors after they finish their training,” Sanders said. “So to be able to get individuals to stay here in Michigan is really quite a big change and it’s really good for West Michigan and our community. That kind of tells us that they have a good practice experience here in West Michigan and in Michigan State.

Go home

In some cases, the residency program has allowed new psychiatrists to train after medical school near their hometown.

Such is the case with Dr. Dan Tuinstra, a native of Allegan County, who just completed a four-year residency and is currently doing a one-year subspecialty fellowship in addiction psychiatry before going to work at Holland Hospital.

The program allowed Tuinstra, a 2018 graduate of MSU’s College of Human Medicine, to do his residency near home.

“I really wanted to stay in this area,” said Tuinstra, a father of three young children who has been heavily recruited across the country. “I have strong ties to the region and it’s what I’ve always called home.”

Pine Rest’s program started with seven psychiatry residents in the first year and grew to 17 per year, which is near a cap on slots eligible for federal funding. Pine Rest would like to expand the program further and train more subspecialists in addictions, forensics and geriatric psychiatry where “there is a huge need,” Sanders said.

Pine Rest may apply for additional residency slots, but would not qualify for additional federal funding. Still, as the need continues to grow for new psychiatrists, Pine Rest could continue to expand without additional funding, Sanders said.

“At some point it might get to the point of expanding it even though we don’t get funding if residents and fellows are able to provide care,” he said. “It’s a calculation that a lot of programs do.”


Comments are closed.