WCMEW Discusses Legislative Initiatives, Key Workforce Issues

March 24, 2017

Five new residency programs will launch July 1 and four others will expand, thanks to a WHA-championed graduate medical education (GME) grant program administrated by the Department of Health Services (DHS). 

Linda McCart, DHS policy chief, told members of the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce (WCMEW) at their March 21 meeting at WHA headquarters that the new programs focus on priority shortage areas. New and expanding programs are listed below.

New residency programs starting in July, 2017:
  • Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation -- Family Medicine
  • The Monroe Clinic, Inc. -- Family Medicine
  • The Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry, North Central Campus
  • The Medical College of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry, VA and Green Bay Campus
  • The Board of Regents, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, General Surgery Residency Program 
Two current programs were expanded: 
  • Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals, General Surgery Resident Training Program
  • UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Family Medicine
In addition, continuation grants for existing programs that were expanded previously were given to:
  • Medical College of Wisconsin Affiliated Hospitals, Fox Valley Family Medicine Residency Program
  • UW Hospitals and Clinics, Psychiatry Residency Training Program
“The best indicator of where a physician will practice is where they complete their residency,” according to WCMEW Chair and WHA Chief Medical Officer Chuck Shabino, MD. “The GME grants have helped launch many new residency programs in Wisconsin for much-needed residencies in rural areas. We know by creating in-state residency programs we will be better able to compete with other states to keep our physicians here after they complete their residency programs.” 

George Quinn, executive director for WCMEW, also discussed two WHA priority health care workforce legislative proposals being introduced in the 2017 legislative session. Both proposals are meant to address shortages of health care workers in rural areas of Wisconsin. The first bill appropriates $750,000 per year in grant funds to hospitals and clinics to support clinical training opportunities for advanced practice clinicians. 

The second bill appropriates $250,000 per year to distribute grants to hospitals, health systems and educational entities that form health care education and training consortia for allied health professionals. The funds, which require an equal match from the recipient, may be used for curriculum and faculty development, tuition reimbursement, or clinical site or simulation expenses. 

Shabino and Matthew Stanford, WHA general counsel, discussed WHA’s “Physician Engagement and Retention Toolkit,” a publication created as a WHA member benefit to help hospitals and health systems further identify and evaluate their internal strategies for retaining physicians. The toolkit is available to WHA members and was a product of work by the WHA Physician Leaders Council throughout 2016.

Kara Traxler, Wisconsin Collaborative for Rural GME, provided an update on the Wisconsin Northern & Central Graduate Medical Education (WiNC GME) Collaborative. WiNC has held several planning meetings and has concluded the consortium will have a dual purpose: 1) GME administration and sponsorship and 2) regional workforce development.

Traxler also reported on a meeting with representatives of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who were invited to Wisconsin to hear about GME activities and to gain insights into challenges in developing rural GME.

This story originally appeared in the March 24, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter