Residency program helps LewisGale Medical Center train and retain doctors

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 7:37 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2023 at 7:38 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Hospitals across the country are dealing with a shortage of doctors, and the problem is only expected to become worse.

But at LewisGale Medical Center in Salem, a residency program is making a difference, training new doctors and encouraging some of them to stay here in western Virginia.

Dr. Eric Parrott grew up in Iowa. And western Virginia wasn’t on his radar when he matched with LewisGale Medical Center for his residency in adult psychiatry.

“My wife and I had not been here before,” Parrott told WDBJ7. “So it was a pleasant surprise getting off the plane to the mountains and falling in love with everything we found.”

Parrott recently completed his four-year residency, but he and his wife decided to stay in the area - enjoying the outdoors, while he continues his medical career, working primarily in the Emergency Department.

Graduate Medical Education has grown quickly at LewisGale. It started six years ago with one specialty, internal medicine. Now it has five, with a sixth on the way.

150 residents spend between three and six years in the program, depending on the length of their training.

LewisGale Hospital Montgomery has a residency program as well.

Dr. Brian Wood oversees the effort in Salem.

“The incentive is to improve both the quality of medical care,” Wood said in an interview, “but also retaining those quality physicians in our region to help our community and to provide care for folks here in the Roanoke Valley and other parts of southwest Virginia.”

The goal is to retain 15% to 20% of the residents in the region. And Parrott said he’s happy to be here.

“Initially, we hadn’t interviewed east of the Mississippi, but we’ve fallen in love with the mountains being out here,” Parrott said. “I would not have looked at coming out to Virginia, but it’s been wonderful.”