SOMERSWORTH – Three years after becoming the first community health center in New Hampshire to train medical residents as part of the Portsmouth Family Medicine Residency Program, Greater Seacoast Community Health recently welcomed its first Associate Residency Program Director and its fourth cohort of family medicine residents.
The Associate Program Director, Michael Samaan, MD, has two decades of experience in family medicine at hospitals and practices in Alaska and Texas. He also served on the faculty of the Alaska Family Medicine Residency and is a Marine Corps veteran. In his faculty and administrative role, he will he will oversee residents’ training and supervise them directly in the clinical setting. Dr. Samaan also sees patients as a primary care provider at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, one of two community health centers — along with Families First Health Center in Portsmouth – that comprises the Greater Seacoast network.
“I have always felt that the patient/physician relationship should be rooted in a genuine feeling of mutual respect, with both parties able to express their frustrations and hopes and to work together in achieving health related goals,” said Dr. Samaan. “A similar relationship can be applied to the medical education environment in preparing new doctors to enter the extremely challenging and dynamic practice of family medicine.”
Joining the program this summer are new resident physicians Samuel Backman, MD, a graduate of Saba University School of Medicine in the Caribbean; Charelle Allen, MD, from St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada; Anna Byrne, DO, a graduate of Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Antara Chakraborty, from Calcutta National Medical College in India.
The 12 residents based at Goodwin serve more than 2,500 patients as one of six primary-care teams at Goodwin Community Health and Families First Health Center. In addition, they complete rotations in the prenatal, mobile health, medication-assisted recovery and psychiatric programs at Greater Seacoast and at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and local specialty practices.
Supervising the new residents along with Dr. Samaan are Greater Seacoast Community Health Chief Medical Officer Joann Buonomano, MD, and Portsmouth Regional Hospital core faculty and community physicians, including Nancy Braese, DO; David Gagnon, MD; and Robert Mathes, MD.
About the Residency Program
The Portsmouth Family Medicine Residency Program, which began in 2020, is a partnership between the American College of Graduate Medical Education at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, which is an affiliate member of Tufts University School of Medicine; Greater Seacoast Community Health; and other local family and internal medicine practices.
“The partnership has been a major asset for our organization as it has allowed us to keep up-to- date with newer medical innovations that come from being affiliated with a hospital network and Tufts University,” said Dr. Buonomano.
“It’s the full scope of traditional family physician experience,” said Dr. Buonomano.
How Resident Physicians Benefit
The three-year Family Medicine Residency Program in the Seacoast attracts applicants from far and wide, with 500 candidates applying each year for eight positions. Greater Seacoast Community Health is currently the only Federally Qualified Health Center in New Hampshire to formally partner with a residency program.
Community health centers like Families First and Goodwin are desirable places for residents to practice primary care after completing their training, because working at a community health center makes them eligible for loan repayment as part of the National Health Service Corps.
“Residents are passionate about delivering care to patients with complex medical 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.”
How Patients Benefit
Through the residency program, Greater Seacoast offers a community-based, full-time primary care clinic at Goodwin, called the Continuity Clinic. Dr. Buonomano, previously a full-scope rural family physician, sees the value that the residents’ hospital experience brings to the outpatient Continuity Clinic.
“The residents provide a bridge for patients hospitalized at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and help us fulfill our advocacy role as primary-care providers within this complex health care setting,” she said.
One way patients benefit from having a resident physician 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.
“This program is a growing asset as we become more seasoned as a faculty team,” said Dr. Buonomano. “We have been successful in 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.”
In addition to participating in the medical residency program, Greater Seacoast Community Health’s work as a teaching environment includes hosting dental students from both Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and University of New England College; nurse practitioner students from the University of New Hampshire; and physician assistant students from University of New England.
Greater Seacoast Community Health is a network of community health centers providing primary care, pediatrics, dental care, prenatal care, behavioral health counseling, substance use disorder treatment, mobile health services, WIC, social work services, a pharmacy, parenting classes, playgroups and home visiting. For more information, visit GetCommunityHealth.org.