From Phoenix, Ariz. to Port. St. Lucia, Fla., 11 medical students from around the nation continued their medical educational journey via the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital’s Residency Program. On Thursday evening at The Center for Rural Development, the 11 resident doctors (5 in family medicine and 6 in internal medicine) graduated as fully licensed physicians.
On top of their rigorous undergraduate education, medical school education and in-house medical work, these 11 resident graduates spent three additional years in the LCRH Residency Program under the direction of Internal Medicine Residency Program Director Joseph Weigel, MD,MACP; and Family Medicine Residency Program Director Patrick Jenkins, MD, FAAFP. In addition to the residency program, LCRH is also the core site for third and fourth year medical students. Twelve are from the University of Pikeville, College of Osteopathic Medicine, and twelve come from Lincoln Memorial University — DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“Our primary mission is to provide primary care physicians in both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine to this area of this and surrounding states,” stated Dr. Jenkins. “Family Medicine physicians work primarily in an outpatient setting, seeing patients from birth onward. Internal Medicine physicians are now primarily hospital based, and supply nearly all the hospitalist positions in this country. They also go on to become cardiologists, endocrinologists and other sub-specialities. They also work in an outpatient setting.”
The LCRH Undergraduate and Graduate Medical Education Resident Program is now a decade old and celebrated their ninth Resident Graduation ceremony on Thursday evening.
The LCRH Residency Program is accredited and is certified to teach by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the same body that accredits programs at all major universities. They are held to the same standards and graduation requirements as graduates trained in larger institutions. In fact, the local program is one of only 19 internal medicine free-standing, non-university affiliated programs in the nation.
In his remarks on Thursday evening, Weigel praised all the LCRH personnel involved in the local program and the astounding success the program has achieved over the past 10 years.
We have now turned out nearly 100 physicians between these two programs, and over 25 of these are currently practicing within a 50-mile radius of Somerset, as hospitalists, as sub-specialists and as primary care outpatient physicians,” Dr. Weigel stated. “Some are currently staffing local emergency rooms also.
“We are one of only a few rural hospitals in the United States with both Family Medicine and Internal Medicine programs,” he added. “The professional and economic impact of these programs at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is significant, and hopefully will become even more so.”
Jonathan Ruby, MD, and R J Blackburn, MD, served as Associate Program Directors. Also, the LCRH Residency Program is assisted by our program coordinators, Edrie Jones, Libbey Crowe and Lori Bradshaw, as well as by Jennifer Stephens Roberson, the Designated Institutional Officer (DIO).
The 2023 Internal Medicine graduates were as follows:
Taylor G. Billings, DO; Henderson, Ky.; Undergraduate — Western Kentucky University; Medical School — University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic; and Medicine Hospitalist — Abrazo Health Care Systems, Phoenix, Ariz.
Paul Henley, MD; Knoxville, Tenn.; Undergraduate — Princeton University; Medical School — University of Louisville School of Medicine; and Hospitalist and Emergency Physician — Lexington Clinic, Lexington, Ky.
Sergeine Lezeau, DO; Port St. Lucia, Fla.; Undergraduate — University of Florida; Medical School — Edward via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Auburn; and Hospitalist — Cleveland Clinic Health Care System, Vero Beach, Fla.
Kylie Rice DO; Ashland, Ky.; Undergraduate — Kentucky Christian University; Medical School, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Hospitalist — Kings Daughter’s Medical Center Ashland, Ky.
John Soter, MD; Salt Lake City, Utah; Undergraduate — University of Utah; Medical School -Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico; and Pulmonology/Critical Care Fellowship — St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo.
Brandon Thomas, DO; Phoenix, Ariz.; Undergraduate — University of Northern Arizona; Medical School -Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, Pa.; and Hospitalist — Flagstaff Medical Center, Flagstaff, Ariz.
The 2023 Family Medicine graduates were as follows:
Xaverie Benedict, DO; Lemont, Ill.; Undergraduate — Lewis University; Medical School University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic; and Medicine Family Physician — Boice Willis Clinic, Spring Hope, N.C.
Fedwa Lutfi, MD; Elizabethtown, Ky.: Undergraduate — University of Kentucky; Medical School — Ross University School of Medicine; and Family Physician — Baptist Health Elizabethtown, Ky.
Mary Nguy, DO; Irvine, CA; Undergraduate — University of California- Riverside; Medical School, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Family Physician, Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, Calif.
Chase Noel, DO; Barbourville, Ky.; Undergraduate — University of Kentucky; Medical School — Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic; and Medicine Family Physician, Baptist Health Family Practice, Corbin, Ky.
Diana Tacelosky, MD, Ph.D.; Frackville, Pa.; Undergraduate — St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pa.; Medical School -MD/PHD Medical Scientist Training Program at The Pennsylvania State College of Medicine; Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine Penn State College of Medicine Penn State Health, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Hershey, Pa.
And while the three years of residency was arduous and extensive for all 11 of the graduates, they were also treated to many fun off-duty activities along the way.
“We felt it was important to allow the group to experience some unique memories of the local area during their time spent in the residency program in Somerset,” Roberson stated. “We took the group to Keeneland for a day, and a houseboat ride on Lake Cumberland. These residents are bonded by their work in medicine, but they also bonded in other activities while outside in the hospital environment.”
The 2022-23 Residency graduates were the first class in the program’s nine-year history to go on a mission trip to Guatemala, which will be led by Dr. Jenkins each year.
Each of this year’s 11 graduating residents probably had their own unique experiences during the three-year program, especially since their time in residency program began in the heat of the worldwide COVID pandemic. However, Dr. Kylie Rice had the experience of her lifetime in Somerset after getting engaged and married to Somerset resident Cameron Claunch during her three-year residency.
“When I moved here from Ashland, I didn’t really know anyone from this area,” Dr. Rice stated. “I was looking for a place to live and ended up renting from Cameron’s mom and dad. One day at the gym, I saw Cameron and thought he looked familiar. I went up to ask him we had met before and asked if he was related to my landlords. To my amazement, he told me they were his parents and I guess that day sort of started our relationship.”
To add to Dr. Rice’s already strenuous medical workload, she was having to deal firsthand with the hard realities of the COVID pandemic in the medical setting. Her newfound relationship with Cameron was a huge help in getting her through the toughest of times.
“Cameron is a police officer here in town, so we both kind of experience tough things in our jobs,” Dr. Rice explained. “They’re different, but they both have tough aspects related to them. When I started in 2020, that was just the start of the pandemic. We were just kind of thrown into this unknown experience and dealing with very, very sick people.
“I think it took a very big emotional toll on me with the things that I saw,” she stated. “I got really close to family members and the patients, they would pass and it would be very hard on me. Cameron also deals with tough situations in his police work, and we both sort of helped each other get through these work related emotions. He was very supportive of me from an academic standpoint and from an emotional standpoint.”
It was during Dr. Rice’s most trying workloads in the residency program that her life positively changed forever.
“Dr. Rice was in the middle of working an in-patient hospital medicine rotation, which is 12-hour shifts for six straight days, that Cameron had come to us asking if she could have a day off so he could propose marriage to her,” Roberson stated. “He had planned to have all her family and all his family gathered at a restaurant to celebrate after he had proposed to her on the lake. We had to keep it as a surprise to Dr. Rice, and it was hard convincing her to take time off from her in-patient commitments.”
Kylie Rice and Cameron Claunch were engaged on March 31, 2022, and later married on May 20, 2023.
The 2022-23 Internal Medicine Outstanding Subspeciality Educator for Excellence in Teaching was N. Mullai, MD and Ausaf Ahmed, MD. The Internal Medicine Outstanding Hospitalist Educator for Excellence in Teaching was Meghan Ryan, DO and Andrew Blakley, DO.
The 2022-23 Family Medicine Out-Patient Clinical Educator of the Year was Alecia Field, DO, FACOG. The 2022-23 Family Medicine In-Patient Educator of the Year was Travis Massengale, DO. Each of these awards are voted on and selected by the residents. The recipients were honored at this year’s graduation ceremony.