Residency Program Benefits Patients and New Physicians

Dr. Fuller with staff in hall

Members of the Residency team include Dr. Joseph Fuller, MD/Resident Preceptor; Katherine Holmes, Primary Care Nurse; and Nichole Smick, MA (first three on left) and Dr. Guillermo Obregon, Family Practice Resident (far right). Pictured with them are medical assistants Christine Madere and Rob Winegarden.

Three years ago, Greater Seacoast Community Health joined with Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Tufts University School of Medicine to bring the first Family Medicine Residency Program to the New Hampshire Seacoast. This affiliation and partnership has increased access to physician care in the Seacoast region and put the organization on the map as teaching program for new physicians. Today, the program is at full capacity, with 12 residents serving more than 2,500 patients as one of six primary-care teams at Goodwin and Families First. In addition, the program recently welcomed a new Associate Program Director, Dr. Michael Samaan, who will also be seeing patients at Goodwin Community Health.

Expanding to Full Capacity

Through this program, Greater Seacoast – which includes Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth and Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth — offers a community-based full-time primary care clinic known as a Continuity Clinic at Goodwin. 

“The partnership has been a major asset for our organization as it’s allowed us to keep up to date with newer medical innovations that come from being affiliated with the hospital network and Tufts University,” said Dr. Joann Buonomano, a core faculty member of the residency program and Greater Seacoast’s Chief Medical Officer.

In addition to the 12 Continuity Clinic residents at Goodwin, all 24 residents from the Family Medicine Residency program complete rotations throughout Greater Seacoast, including prenatal care at Families First Health and Support Center, mobile health clinics in the community, and nurse practitioner psychiatry. During their prenatal rotation, residents work with Dr. Megan Carey at Families First, who carefully coordinates with Harbour Women’s Health to deliver babies at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

“It’s the full-scope family physician experience,” said Dr. Buonomano.

Benefits for resident physicians

The three-year residency program attracts applicants from all over the country, and 500 candidates apply each year. Greater Seacoast is currently the only Federally Qualified Health Center in New Hampshire to formally partner with a residency program; however, plans for additional programs in Keene and in Berlin are in progress. This makes it is a desirable place for residents to practice after completing their training, as providers at community health centers are eligible for loan repayment as part of the  National Health Service Corps.

“Residents are passionate about delivering care to patients facing housing challenges and other obstacles related to the social determinants of health,” said Dr. Buonomano. “The enthusiasm of these young doctors coming out of medical school has been inspiring and builds a foundation of hope for the future of compassionate health care.”

Benefits for Greater Seacoast Patients

Dr. Buonomano, previously a rural family physician, sees the value the residents’ hospital experience bring to the outpatient continuity clinic.

“They provide a bridge for patients hospitalized at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and in general help us fulfill our advocacy role as primary care providers within the complex health care setting,” she said.

One way patients benefit from having a resident as their primary care provider is that they are also seen by the resident’s preceptor or teacher, another physician who supervises their clinical experience. Patients get the best of both worlds: residents who have the latest medical knowledge, and the wisdom of physicians who have been practicing medicine for many years. The program’s preceptors include faculty and physicians at Families First and Goodwin, as well as other physicians from surrounding community practices.

“This program is a growing asset as we become more seasoned as a program; we are attracting skilled core faculty and skilled community preceptors who are passionate about the critical role of primary care within an increasingly complex and specialized industry,” said Dr. Buonomano.

Dr. Samaan, the new Associate Program Director of the Graduate Medical Education program at the hospital, is one of these seasoned faculty members helping to develop young doctors. He will work closely with resident physicians as well as serving as a primary care provider to patients at Goodwin. He brings to this role two decades of experience in family medicine at hospitals and practices in Alaska and Texas, as well as having served on the faculty of the Alaska Family Medicine Residency and being a Marine Corps veteran. ADD A QUOTE FROM DR. SAMAAN?

Impact on Residents’ Learning Experiences

The residents say the preceptors’ knowledge and experience helps them provide the best care to the patients they see.

“I’m confident that when I leave here, I will be more prepared,” said Dr. Matthew Nagelschmidt, a third-year resident. “I’m more confident in my clinical work, thanks to being here.” The preceptors each bring a unique way to help mold him and the other residents, he said, so residents can take the best from their preceptors to better meet patient needs.

“The preceptors we’ve had have made a difference. Dr. Buonomano is amazing,” he added.

First-year resident Dr. Bashir Heidari agreed that the preceptors are very thorough and knowledgeable. He also said that the complex cases he has seen at Goodwin have been a great learning experience to help him further develop his skills as a physician.

“We’re helping people in need have access to health care, and that’s great,” he said.

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Due to weather, Goodwin Community Health and Families First Health & Support Center will be closed on Tuesday March 14th.

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