Willis-Knighton Receives Approval to Add Medical Residency Programs

Sep 20, 2021

Training will enhance availability of doctors for patients in this region 

Willis-Knighton Health System has been approved for physician residency training programs in general surgery and internal medicine beginning in 2022. The new programs are built on a solid foundation of medical education initiated with LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport decades ago. In addition to medical education options with students and residents from LSU School of Medicine Shreveport, Willis-Knighton also provides educational opportunities to medical students from Tulane University School of Medicine and several osteopathic medical schools in Louisiana and Arkansas.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) granted initial accreditation to Willis-Knighton as a sponsoring institution last October and has now granted the initial accreditation for the two residency programs. Medical students will apply this fall to begin their advanced training at Willis-Knighton. Residency programs in other specialties are under development.

“This program supplements our decades-long commitment to medical school graduates, offering them access to training at Willis-Knighton hospitals and clinics and giving them exposure to our large and diverse patient population and advanced technology,” said Jaf Fielder, president and CEO of Willis-Knighton Health System.  “By expanding and formalizing this program, we hope to assure that more physicians will train here, establish relationships here and decide to remain here to care for people in our community for the long term.” 

These programs respond directly to the need for additional residency positions for medical school graduates.  “Currently in the United States, the number of available residency positions has not kept pace with the increase in medical school graduates,” Fielder said. “Health systems are concerned about the challenges of a projected physician shortage, particularly in primary care.”

Physicians on Willis-Knighton’s medical staff, including some with previous academic appointments, have agreed to work with the residency program.  Joseph A. Bocchini, Jr., MD, has been designated as the health system’s chief academic officer, while Donnie Aultman, MD, has been named the designated institutional official.  Gazi B. Zibari, MD, serves as the program director and academic chair for the surgery residency program.  Neeraj Singh, MD, serves as the program director and academic chair for the internal medicine residency program.

“Many of our physicians have a long-standing commitment to surgical education and have mentored surgical residents for decades. They are eager to support this enhanced commitment to medical education and our community,” Dr. Zibari said.

“As a community healthcare organization, this is another way Willis-Knighton and its doctors can both give back to the medical field and support our community, since residents often choose to remain where they train,” Dr. Singh, MD, affirmed. 

Physicians who have graduated from medical school and who have passed a national exam are eligible to apply for the multiyear residency program in their chosen specialty. They will train under the supervision of experienced physicians who will help them improve their skills and who will review all patient care. Following the residency training program, they will be qualified to practice medicine independently, without further supervision.

This effort to support graduate medical education reflects Willis-Knighton’s continuing commitment to improvements in quality and processes and its dedication to offering innovative care models that reinforce preventive care and chronic disease management.

Additional information about this initiative is available at https://gme.wkhs.com/