Wisconsin Hospital Association, Inc.
Contact: Mary Kay Grasmick
608-274-1820 (office) 608-575-7516 (cell)
Funding Cuts Threaten Physician Training Programs
Exacerbates Growing Shortage of Docs
MADISON (March 11, 2003)------------- Access to health care in rural and inner city
areas that depend on medical residents to staff much-needed medical and dental clinics
could be threatened if a state budget proposal to eliminate funding is approved.
The recently introduced state budget bill eliminates $57 million for medical education
training over the biennium. Currently, the state’s Medicaid program provides funding for
Graduate Medical Education (GME) at Wisconsin’s 33 teaching hospitals. By eliminating
about $23 million of state funding, Wisconsin forfeits another $34 million of federal
funding. Currently, the state’s Medicaid program provides funding for residency
programs at Wisconsin’s 33 teaching hospitals. This funding is used by hospitals to
help cover the cost of residents’ salaries and other direct and indirect costs of medical
Speaking at a Wisconsin Hospital Association news conference at the State Capitol
today, Steve Brenton, WHA president said, “Elimination of this funding is a huge
concern because medical residents help staff trauma centers, rural and inner city
medical clinics, and free dental clinics, ensuring that we have a health care safety net in
place for our most vulnerable patients.”
Carl Getto, MD, associate dean for hospital affairs, UW Medical School and senior vice
president for medical affairs at UW Hospital & Clinics, voiced his concern for the future
of physician training programs in Wisconsin.
“The medical education system in Wisconsin is the result of many years of investment,
hard work and good planning by state legislators and the people of Wisconsin.
Residents provide services that people need—trauma, psychiatric and basic medical
care,” Getto said. “These cuts put the residency program in jeopardy and will mean that
fewer physicians will train and eventually locate in Wisconsin.”
A resident’s training site is the best predictor of where they will practice, according to
Kevin O’Connell, MD, director of the UW-Family Residency Practice Program in
Wausau. O’Connell said of 120 graduates of the Wausau residency program, 65% are
practicing in Wisconsin, and of those, 65% are in rural areas. “We import more
physicians than we export; 70% of our graduates have come from outside of Wisconsin
two thirds stay in the state after completing their residency. These are physicians that
we would have a difficult time attracting to Northern Wisconsin if they had not completed
a residency here,” O’Connell said.
The residency programs are essential to ensuring that the health care safety net is in
place, according to Jeff Stearns, MD, vice president academic affairs and associate
dean of the UW-Milwaukee Clinical Campus. “Physicians in the Milwaukee residency
programs care for the most needy populations, providing care in clinic settings, instead
of the hospital emergency department that is much more costly,” according to Stearns.
“These proposed cuts will lead to fewer residency positions and have a major impact on
the future physician supply in Wisconsin.”
With an aging population and an aging physician workforce, William Petasnick, president
and CEO of Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee, said, “Now is not the
time to reduce the number of physicians trained in the state. This is about training
tomorrow’s physicians, those who will care for our children and our aging parents.
Without residency programs, we risk losing the brain power that we have worked hard to
retain in the state.”
Below are just a few examples of how GME benefits Wisconsin communities:
! Sixty-four percent of the 142 graduates of the Eau Claire Family Medicine
Residency program supported by Sacred Heart Hospital and Luther Hospital are
practicing in Wisconsin. Half of those serve communities of less than 10,000,
and one-quarter practice within 50 miles of Eau Claire. In order to enhance its
focus on training physicians for rural practice, the program has established rural
training sites in Augusta and Menomonie.
! Half of the more than 100 graduates of the Wausau Hospital-supported UW
Family Practice Residency Program have gone into practice in North Central
Wisconsin – many in rural communities. To prepare residents for rural practice,
Wausau Hospital and Langlade Memorial Hospital have partnered in Antigo to
support a small community (population of less than 2,000) family practice training
! Sixty-three percent of the 118 graduates of the St. Elizabeth Hospital and
Appleton Medical Center residency program practice in Wisconsin. Of those,
44% practice in Northeast Wisconsin and 28% in the Fox Cities. All six of the
2002 graduates stayed in the state. Each year, this program places one to three
graduates into rural practice in Wisconsin.
! Eighty percent of the 190 graduates of the Aurora Health Care family medicine
residency program practice in Wisconsin - many at Aurora Sinai Medical Center
located in Milwaukee’s inner city. Eighty percent of the internal medicine
residency graduates practice in Wisconsin as well.
Residents provide basic health care services to the general population, as well as many
special needs groups such as the elderly and indigent. In many communities, clinics
staffed by residents serve as major health care safety nets. Below are just a few
! In Metro Milwaukee, Covenant Healthcare System supports residency programs at
both St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and St. Michael Hospital. Currently,
residents provide 100% of the physician staffing for an obstetrics clinic at St.
Joseph’s and a family care clinic at St. Michael’s. In addition to the impacts on these
clinics, reductions in the number of residents will impact surgical and radiology
services at St. Joseph’s where residents provide significant staffing.
! Aurora Health Care supports five medical residency programs, five fellowship
programs and one dental residency program in Milwaukee. Programs at Aurora
Sinai include internal medicine, ob/gyn, geriatrics, gastroenterology and cardiology.
Programs at St. Luke’s Medical Center include dental, radiology, and family
medicine. The programs are community-based with residents treating patients in a
! In Dane County, Meriter Hospital supports a charitable dental clinic staffed by