The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 18, 2012

Staff passionate about their calling

The AccessHealth residents themselves are passionate about the path they’ve chosen, progressive thinkers still in some regards reminiscent of the commitment of doctors hailing from the house-call era.

Residents are students who have completed at least eight years of higher education (four undergraduate and four medical school). They’re doctors training on-the-job. For patients who encounter residents, many notice more time spent getting to know them and their condition than they are accustomed to, a trait that generally endears residents to those seeking care.

Far from the book-buried and passive listening set, residents are busy applying the concepts they’ve pored over the last four years. They maintain their own patient load, supervised by a fully licensed attending physician, and manage a continuity of care clinic that affords thorough evaluations and follow-up care for the economically strapped. Daily, working closely with their physician mentors, they partner in consulting with established patients.

“If patients are willing to take extra time and allow the residents to learn, they are not getting second-class care. Their appointments are longer with extra one-on-one time. What we hear all the time as physicians is, ‘My doctor doesn’t spend time with me.’ With residents, if anything, the doctor spends too much time with them,” Thymius illustrated.

About 450 patients between the AccessHealth Daniels and Mabscott locations are treated by the residents. Patient satisfaction, reported Thymius, has proven universally excellent from the resident-managed clinic component.

“The residents are actively contributing to this community.”

For the 2012-2013 year, there are four first-year resident physicians at AccessHealth: Michael L. Antolini, D.O.; Jamie Y. Blankenship, D.O.; T.C. Bramlee, D.O.; and Angela M. Pendleton, D.O.

Dr. Antolini, a graduate of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, is a dyed-in-the-wool rural practitioner with interests in the growing fields of disaster medicine and preparedness and wilderness medicine.

He admitted while all residents are under pressure to learn as much as possible before beginning their own practices, the ability to actively participate in a patient’s health care removes an element of stress that is constant in the passive learning phase of medical scholarship.

“But you are also put on the spot in a different way in taking care of actual patients. What I’ve learned from the program so far is medicine is a business and it needs to be a sustainable endeavor. The sad fact is most of the time what makes you a good physician makes you a terrible business person. In the real world, you are not always funded adequately to provide good care. But you can’t let all those things influence your decision-making. Medicine is the easy part — it’s everything else that makes it difficult.”

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