Mercy Health Cultivates Medical Workforce

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With the ever-worsening shortage of physicians, nurses and other clinical professionals, it is important that health care providers make workforce development a priority.

Toward that end, Mercy Health has focused on its graduate medical education programs in specialized care to prepare the next generation of doctors.

“As the Mahoning Valley’s health care needs continue to evolve, it is critical that we fill our talent pipeline and address workforce shortages,” says Dr. John Luellen, market president of Mercy Health – Lorain and Youngstown.

This commitment to medical education is not new. Mercy Health – Youngstown’s surgical residency program has been in place for more than 100 years and its internal medicine residency for nearly as long, he says.

Today, the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program includes 10 residency programs and two fellowship programs that train nearly 150 residents in internal medicine, family medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, general dentistry, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, transitional year, pharmacy and addiction medicine.

Most recently, Mercy Health added a rural pathway to its GME program, giving family medicine residents the opportunity to train in a rural setting and address the health disparities found in such areas.

The program is led by Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health – Youngstown and system medical director for GME for Bon Secours Mercy Health, and Dr. Ron Rhodes, chief academic officer for Mercy Health – Youngstown.

“In addition to furthering their medical education, these residents become ingrained in our Mahoning Valley communities,” says Luellen. “Many choose to stay in the area for the duration of their careers, which enables us to secure vitally needed talent.”

Nurses are also in high demand and are a primary target of Mercy Health’s workforce development strategies.

This includes an extern program that enables nursing students to work side-by-side with a registered nurse as per diem employees after they’ve completed their first clinical rotations in nursing school. During their time in this program, externs rotate through different units to gain experience.

Externs in the program have first selection of any open jobs within the Mercy Health system.