Summa Health ends ophthalmology residency update to emergeny medicine
Summa Health is voluntarily ending its physician residency training program for ophthalmologists this summer, citing a trend also playing out nationally.
The program will end July 1. It will impact eight residents currently in the program, said Dr. Cindy Kelley, Summa’s vice president of medical education. Two residents will graduate in June and the six others have accepted offers to join new programs in July.
The program has been treating patients and training residents for more than 50 years, said Kelley.
“We are extremely proud of the program and the outstanding learning environment that has been available to so many. At the same time, the ophthalmology industry is changing. And the reality is these changes are making it increasingly more difficult to provide sufficient surgical case volumes that meet (Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education) ACGME teaching requirements and to identify necessary teaching support and faculty members,” said Kelley in a statement sent to the Beacon Journal in response to questions about the program’s closure.
Kelley said other programs similar to Summa are “struggling with the same decision.”
The closure of the ophthalmology residency program does not diminish the health system’s commitment to residency education or patients, Kelley said.
“At Summa, we intend to not only maintain our current ophthalmology services, but also are evaluating options to evolve and expand them in the future to continue to meet the needs of the community,” she said.
Summa’s ophthalmology program was one of many partners that medical students at Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown could choose to complete rotations for training, said Dr. Eugene M. Mowad, NEOMED’s vice dean of the college of medicine.
Mowad said the closure gives students one less place to practice. The end of the program also eliminates a local option for NEOMED students who wanted to pursue an ophthalmology residency program for specialty training after medical school.
“They were our home program, so to speak. So our students, if anything, because of our partnership, might have a little bit of an edge in applying to that residency,” Mowad said. “Now we’ve sort of lost that edge.”
Ophthalmology is a very competitive and small field for residencies, he said. Of NEOMED’s typical class of 150 graduates, about four to six apply for ophthalmology residencies.
Mowad is concerned about the pipeline of locally trained doctors.
“While I understand the reasons a program may choose to close, the loss of any local training program is concerning to NEOMED and its students because we seek to train clinicians who are dedicated to practice in our region,” he said.
Cleveland Clinic Akron General, which also has several residency programs, does not have an ophthalmology residency program.
All of the ophthalmology faculty from Summa’s residency program also have appointments at NEOMED as professors in the department of surgery and will continue with those appointments to teach other students, Mowad said.
Emergency department residency rebuilds
Another of Summa’s residency training programs, which went through some turmoil in 2017, continues to rebuild.
Summa lost its ability to train its emergency department residents in February 2017 when the ACGME revoked its accreditation.
The national accrediting agency cited problems resulting from an abrupt emergency department physician staffing change on New Year’s Day 2017. Negotiations failed between the health system and Summa Emergency Associates, the group that had staffed the Summa emergency rooms for more than 40 years.
The switch to Canton-based USACS resulted in upheaval at Summa, including the resignation of then-CEO Dr. Thomas Malone within weeks after hundreds of doctors voted no confidence in his leadership
Summa reapplied for the accreditation in June 2018, but was denied the request. It reapplied in 2019 and received approval to restart in July 2020. The new Summa program was approved for up to 24 residents over a three-year program, eight each year.
Kelley said the new program “has been a tremendous addition to our teaching program. We are excited for its continued growth and the positive impact it is having on the people we serve throughout the community. We welcomed nine residents into the program in 2020. One person came to us in their second year as a transfer and eight joined in their first year of residency. We also have filled all eight first-year spots available in the 2021 match. This means in July, we will have one third year resident, eight second year residents and eight first year residents for a total of 17. “
Beacon Journal staff reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ To see her most recent stories and columns, go to www.tinyurl.com/bettylinfisher