John T. Mather Hospital became the only hospital in the country to introduce a new residency program this year in diagnostic radiology, and one of two hospitals introducing a psychiatry residency program.
The two programs, which began July 1, accepted five first-year residents in psychiatry and three first-year residents in radiology. The residents in both programs will spend four years at Mather.
“Residency programs become the lifeblood of a hospital,” said Dr. Noam Fast, the psychiatry program director. “When you’re teaching, it really does take things to the next level.”
Mather’s is the fifth radiology and the third psychiatry residency program on Long Island. Both are sponsored by Stony Brook University Hospital, which will provide oversight and give residents access to its educational resources.
In the past, Mather accepted residents from other hospitals on rotation, but with its own programs in place, the hospital hopes to train people who “will grow to love this community and will want to stay here,” said Dr. Joan Faro, Mather’s chief medical and academic officer.
There is a shortage of physicians in the country, Fast said, which residency programs can assuage.
“As the population grows, we’re actually having more and more patients,” he said. “The shortage of mental health professionals, especially in communities like Port Jefferson, is pretty pronounced.”
In addition to Mather’s already established programs, the new programs serve to expand the services available to the North Shore community and to cement the hospital’s place as a teaching institution, hospital faculty said.
Mather offers psychiatric services through a number of inpatient and outpatient clinics, as well as chemical dependency and eating disorder programs. Introducing residents to the current infrastructure will increase the quality of mental and behavioral health care Mather offers, Fast said.
Psychiatry residents will receive medical doctor training, rotate through mental health clinics and work with patients to hone their therapy skills, Fast said.
Additionally, Mather constructed a high-tech reading room where radiology residents will learn to read X-rays and scans at their own stations, said Dr. Jared Dunkin, director of the radiology program.
Since much of radiology is grounded in technology, Faro said, “building out this space for the residents is a signal of support” from the hospital board of directors.
Residents also will get experience in mammography and interventional radiology, and spend time getting used to the different radiology-related technologies, Dunkin said.
Mather received accreditation for both programs from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in February, leaving little time before spring “match,” when medical school graduates across the country are paired to a residency. Still, applications poured in for both. Fast received more than 250 resumes. Dunkin had to go through more than 50 for this year and 100 more for the 2017 class.
Despite the “scramble,” Fast said, the hospital ended up with “eager, dedicated, smart residents.”
A few are local — from Long Island, New York and New Jersey — but some come from Maine and Florida.
“We’re producing the next generation that hopefully may stay on Long Island and treat the surrounding community,” said Dunkin, who grew up in Rocky Point. “I hope that these guys feel the community around them like a family atmosphere and want to stay.”