Within an hour after being accredited, Dr. Chris Dunlap told Murfreesboro Rotary members about a new residency program at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital.
He said, "We need approximately 160 primary care physicians just to meet the needs of Rutherford and Bedford counties. In fact, every county in Middle Tennessee is medically underserved."
Dr. Dunlap and those associated with the local hospital have partnered with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to create four new residency programs here: 1. Family Medicine, 2. Emergency Medicine, 3. OB/GYN, and 4. Surgery.
He noted that several issues are flaming the local physician shortage, but one of the primary issues is that with the exploding population, approximately twenty-five per cent of primary care physicians in the area are likely to retire over the coming decade.
Another concern is that the Affordable Care Act will bring thousands of new patients to an already over capacity market.
He told the Rotarians that with the four residencies now being accredited, St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital can now begin recruiting candidates.
Dr. Dunlap said, "Our goal is to find residents who will be well connected to the area, and will establish practices here after they complete the training."
The first residents will begin the three-year program in the summer of 2015. The hospital is in the process of recruiting faculty, and have already purchased and renovated a building for the program at 1020 North Highland Avenue here in Murfreesboro.
Dr. Dunlap concluded his talk to the Murfreesboro Rotary club by saying, "St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital will continue the mission of the Saint Louise Clinic, and grow the patient population to meet the needs of the residency program. By doing that, we will meet the needs of the locally underserved while providing an excellent opportunity for residents to practice and train under the supervision of seasoned physicians."
The Murfreesboro Rotary Club meets at noon every Tuesday in the ballroom of the Stones River Country Club. It was chartered 94-years ago. One of Rotary's primary goals is to eradicate polio worldwide. Since that project began almost thirty-years ago, the number of children suffering from this crippling disease dropped from 350,000 to only a few hundred.